Bautista tied for lead after hitting 38th homer, Jays beat Rays

Toronto 7 Tampa Bay 3 TORONTO — Missing their manager and facing a rare four-game sweep at home, the Toronto Blue Jays’ bats finally came through.

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista (right) and catcher J.P. Arencibia celebrate their 7-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in AL action  in Toronto.

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista (right) and catcher J.P. Arencibia celebrate their 7-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in AL action in Toronto.

Toronto 7 Tampa Bay 3

TORONTO — Missing their manager and facing a rare four-game sweep at home, the Toronto Blue Jays’ bats finally came through.

Jose Bautista clubbed his 38th homer to earn a share of the major-league lead, Adam Lind hit his 23rd and the Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-3 Monday.

Bautista, Lind and rookie catcher J.P Arencibia each drove in two runs for the Jays, who were outscored 24-6 in the first three games of the series. Toronto played the series without manager John Farrell, who is suffering from pneumonia.

“We talked about a little bit today with the offence was that e’re better than we’re showing,” said acting manager Don Wakamatsu. “We have the capability, a lot of guys in our lineup have the capability of hitting home runs, but we’ve got to get on base. I think we managed the strike zone much better today.”

Farrell is still recovering and not Travel to Baltimore on Tuesday for Toronto’s three-game series against the Orioles.

“I hope it helps John sleep at night,” Wakamatsu said. “That was our biggest thing. We talked about it as a club a little bit, getting one for him, getting back on the horse a little bit.”

Johnny Damon hit his 12th and 13th homers of the season against Toronto starter Ricky Romero (13-9) to account for all three Tampa Bay runs.

The Rays couldn’t complete the first four-game sweep of the Jays in Toronto in eight years. The last team to do it was the Boston Red Sox in 2003.

Monday’s win was a reversal of form from the first three games of the series, when the Rays’ starting pitching stifled the Blue Jays’ offence.

This time it was the Rays’ starter who faltered.

Right-hander Wade Davis (8-8) allowed nine hits, including Lind’s two-run homer in the third, and six runs.

Romero wasn’t at his best but he lasted six innings and allowed six hits, four walks and three runs.

“When everything’s working it’s easy to get through a game and go eight-nine innings,” Romero said. “It’s these outings that make you mentally strong and you’re like, you know what, I grinded and I did everything I could and I made it through six.

“It’s pretty obvious that’s what it is. I’m just throwing too many balls, getting deep in counts, and fighting myself to come all the way back … If these are my worst outings then I’ll take them any time. It’s all about grinding and giving your team a chance to win.”

The Blue Jays (67-67) were without manager John Farrell for the fourth game in a row after he was diagnosed with pneumonia.

He will not be with the team for a three-game series that opens Tuesday in Baltimore and his status for the series in New York is undetermined.

Romero fared better than Davis who lacked command of his pitches.

“I just didn’t have good command of anything,” Davis said. “I had good stuff. It was kind of an uphill battle the whole day. It was frustrating to feel good and not be able to put the ball in good spots.”

Romero walked the first batter of the game, Desmond Jennings, and Damon followed with his 12th homer of the season for a 2-0 Rays lead.

“I didn’t think he had his best stuff but the thing that’s special about Ricky is his competitiveness,” Wakamatsu said. “A couple of big double plays to get him out of some jams, he just never gave in all night, got us through the sixth to turn it over to the bullpen.”

The Rays (73-60) got a one-out triple by Evan Longoria in the third despite a valiant, running and leaping effort by centre-fielder Dewayne Wise. But Ben Zobrist bounced to Romero and Longoria was out between third and home in a rundown.

The Blue Jays, who had a hitters’ meeting after batting practice, broke out for three third-inning runs. Yunel Escobar singled with one out, Eric Thames doubled. Bautista’s groundout scored Escobar, then Lind followed with a homer for a 3-2 Toronto lead.

“Offensively we talked about having better at-bats and getting the opposing pitcher in trouble, early in the ballgame that’s exactly what happened,” Wakamatsu said.

The Blue Jays added a pair in the fourth inning after Kelly Johnson led off with a single and took second on a groundout. He scored on Arencibia’s double. Escobar scored Arencibia with a two-out single. The Blue Jays loaded the bases but Davis retired Lind.

The Rays got one back in the fifth on Damon’s second home run of the game and 13th of the season. It was his first multi-homer game of the season and the 13th of his career.

“We were obviously hoping for a sweep,” Damon said. “We got off to a great start. Wade ran into some trouble in that third inning.”

The Rays were left to lament three hard-hit balls, one by Sean Rodriguez and two by Zobrist that became double plays.

“Zobrist hit the ball well twice and they were turned into double plays,” Damon said. “And Sean Rodriguez, too. Those balls were hit pretty well. Definitely happy with the way our team swung the bats but they just weren’t as productive as the last couple of days.”

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