for this game

Stairs backs dominant Burnett as Blue Jays down Rays

Jul 29, 2008 - 3:51 AM TORONTO (Ticker) -- A stagnant offense has caused the Tampa Bay Rays to fall off their early-season pace. Facing A.J. Burnett just extended their misery.

Burnett tossed seven dominating innings and Matt Stairs hit the go-ahead homer in the fifth inning Monday, powering the Toronto Blue Jays to a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tampa Bay (61-44), which led the American League East by as many as five games earlier this month, has averaged 2.7 runs in its last 18 games, batting just .213 as a team over that time.

That meager production has greatly contributed to the Rays' diminishing division lead, down to one game over the Boston Red Sox (61-46), who also lost on Monday to Anaheim.

"We always try to play hard," Tampa Bay left fielder Carl Crawford said. "(We've) just got to execute. Once we do that better, I think our chances will be better. We're just struggling to get the offense going."

The struggling offense didn't figure to get healthy against Burnett (12-9), who general manager J.P. Ricciardi emphatically stated earlier Monday would not be leaving Toronto after his name had surfaced as a possible hired-gun for a contending team over the final two months of the season.

Burnett, the American League leader in strikeouts, hours later responded almost as forcefully as Ricciardi, striking out the side in the first, fanning 10 and outdueling Rays starter James Shields (9-7) to collect his fourth win over his last five outings.

"It's a healthy run," Burnett said. "That's all I can look at right now. I'm trying to go start-by-start right now and (I'm) feeling good. I'm trying to pound the strike zone as best I (can)."

The righthander, who has yielded a total of four earned runs over his last four outings after surrendering 13 earned runs over two starts from July 4-9, allowed an unearned run and six hits with four walks to match his career-high win total, set twice while with the Florida Marlins in 2002 and 2005.

Trailing, 1-0, in the fifth, Toronto finally mounted some offense off Shields, who had yielded just one hit up to that point.

Rod Barajas led off the inning with a single, only to score on the next pitch when Stairs drove a high sinker from Shields off the first-deck facade in center field for his 11th home run of the season. Joe Inglett followed Brad Wilkerson's triple with one of his own in the eighth to double the lead to 3-1.

"He's one of the toughest pitchers in the league," Stairs said. "The whole pitching staff over there is outstanding. ... I was very fortunate to 'barrel' (hit) it out of the ballpark and get a 2-1 lead."

Shields yielded three runs and five hits with five strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings, taking just his second loss over his last seven decisions.

"I felt I pitched really well," Shields said. "I think if I pitch well like the rest of the season, we are going to win games."








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    TAMPA BAY 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 0
    TORONTO 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 x 3 5 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: TAM - JAMES SHIELDS, GRANT BALFOUR (8TH) AND DIONER NAVARRO
    TOR - A.J. BURNETT, SCOTT DOWNS (8TH), B.J. RYAN (9TH)
    AND ROD BARAJAS

    HOME RUNS: TAM - NONE
    TOR - MAT

    Jul 28 9:31 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    TRIPLE BY JOE INGLETT SCORED BRAD WILKERSON.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J INGLETT ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1
    TORONTO 3 BOTTOM, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR TORONTO: M SCUTARO (.261, 0-FOR-3)

    Rays 1, Blue Jays 3  Bot 8, 0 OutsJul 28 9:17 PM
  • 18
    roots
    RUWTbot Took away 35 roots

    Rays 1, Blue Jays 3  Bot 8, 0 OutsJul 28 9:17 PM
  • 53
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Rays 1, Blue Jays 2  Bot 7, 0 OutsJul 28 8:53 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY MATT STAIRS (11) TO CENTER WITH 0 OUT
    IN THE 5TH OFF JAMES SHIELDS SCORED ROD BARAJAS.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1, TORONTO 2
    DUE UP FOR TORONTO: S ROLEN (.259, 0-FOR-1)

    Rays 1, Blue Jays 2  Bot 5, 0 OutsJul 28 8:23 PM
  • 18
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 18 roots

    Rays 1, Blue Jays 2  Bot 5, 0 OutsJul 28 8:23 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY CARLOS PENA SCORED AKINORI IWAMURA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C CRAWFORD ON SECOND, B UPTON ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1
    TORONTO 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: C FLOYD (.248, 1-FOR-1)

    Rays 1, Blue Jays 0  Top 3, 0 OutsJul 28 7:47 PM