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Zaun belts grand slam, lifts Blue Jays to seventh straight win

Sep 6, 2008 - 11:51 PM TORONTO (Ticker) -- The Toronto Blue Jays already had given up the lead twice. It took Gregg Zaun just one swing to take it all back.

Zaun hit a two-out, walk-off grand slam down the right field line to lift the Toronto Blue Jays to a come-from-behind, 7-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.

"It just eked over," Zaun said. "It was perfect placement. If I hit it anywhere else, it's a game-ending fly ball. but I got it far enough down the line, and it was a big moment. A lot of fun."

The dramatic victory extended the Blue Jays' winning streak to seven games and made up for a series of missed opportunities earlier in the game.

Thanks to Shaun Marcum's dominating performance - seven strikeouts in seven outstanding innings - Toronto held a comfortable 3-0 lead - before the Rays' three-run rally in the ninth inning tied it up.

Four innings later, the Rays looked to complete their comeback, taking the lead on Dioner Navarro's RBI single in the top of the 13th.

But the Blue Jays' offense sprung to life in the bottom half of the inning, manhandling Tampa Bay closer Troy Percival (3-1), who was fresh off the disabled list.

Vernon Wells and Brad Wilkerson ripped back-to-back singles and, two batters later, Scott Rolen walked on four pitches to load the bases. That left it up to Zaun, who connected for his fourth career grand slam.

"I was trying to go with a fastball away right there, and I pulled it across the plate," Percival said. "I knew he was going to try and ambush. I was kind of hoping for him to try and ambush and get a pop fly out. But I pulled it across the plate. Nice location, bad pitch."

The Rays have now lost four of their last five. Entering the day, their lead in the American League East had dwindled to just 2 1/2 games over the Boston Red Sox.

"We consider every game a have-to-have game," Tampa Bay designated hitter Rocco Baldelli said. "I don't think any games are bigger than any others. Obviously when you come back and you're down and you tie the game up, obviously you feel the momentum and you feel you are going to win that game."

They couldn't do anything early on, as Marcum controlled them for the fourth time in four career appearances. Earlier this season, he gave up two runs and four hits and struck out nine in 8 2/3 innings of a 6-2 victory.

"I felt good," Marcum said. "I thought I did a pretty good job of locating my fastball for strikes today."

In two meetings with Tampa Bay last year, Marcum didn't allow a single hit, tossing six innings of no-hit ball in a May 13, 2007 start and 2 1/3 perfect innings in relief on April 7.

The Rays' luck didn't change much Saturday, but they got their chances at redemption and capitalized against Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan in the ninth.

Baldelli cut the deficit to one with a two-run homer, and Fernando Perez came around to score the game-tying run on second baseman Joe Inglett's fielding error.

The Blue Jays still had a chance to win in the bottom of the ninth, and Zaun was in the middle of it once again. The veteran catcher ripped a deep infield single, but Rolen was thrown out at home to keep the game knotted at 3-3.

After four scoreless innings, the Rays finally broke through in the 13th. Perez reached on a fielder's choice, moved to second on a groundout, stole third and came home to score the go-ahead run on Navarro's single.

But the Blue Jays took advantage of Percival's shakiness to steal the victory. Since returning from a right knee injury on September 2, Percival has struggled in two outings.

In Wednesday's appearance against the New York Yankees, he served up a two-run homer to Alex Rodriguez and lasted just two-thirds of an inning. On Saturday, things only got worse.

Brian Tallet (1-1) worked one-third of an inning, striking out one and walking one, to earn the victory.






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    Rays 4, Blue Jays 7  Final/13Sep 6 6:40 PM
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    Rays 4, Blue Jays 7  Final/13Sep 6 5:23 PM


  • AL
    FINAL 13
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    - - - - - - - - -
    TAMPA BAY 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
    TORONTO 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
    10 11 12 13 R H E
    -- -- -- -- - - -
    TAMPA BAY 0 0 0 1 4 10 0
    TORONTO 0 0 0 4 7 13 1 (FINAL 13)

    BATTERIES: TAM

    Sep 6 5:21 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    GRAND SLAM BY GREGG ZAUN (6) TO RIGHT WITH 2 OUT IN THE
    13TH OFF TROY PERCIVAL SCORED VERNON WELLS, JOHN MCDONALD AND SCOTT
    ROLEN.
    FINAL SCORE: TORONTO 7, TAMPA BAY 4

    Rays 4, Blue Jays 7  Bot 13, 0 OutsSep 6 5:21 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY DIONER NAVARRO SCORED FERNANDO PEREZ.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, D NAVARRO ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 4
    TORONTO 3 TOP, 13TH
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: J BARTLETT (.279, 0-FOR-3)

    Rays 4, Blue Jays 3  Top 13, 0 OutsSep 6 5:10 PM
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    Rays 3, Blue Jays 3  Top 13, 0 OutsSep 6 4:49 PM
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    Rays 3, Blue Jays 3  Bot 9, 0 OutsSep 6 3:32 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    ERROR BY JOE INGLETT ALLOWED FERNANDO PEREZ TO SCORE.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 3
    TORONTO 3 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: J BARTLETT (.281, 0-FOR-1)

    Rays 3, Blue Jays 3  Top 9, 0 OutsSep 6 3:23 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 37 roots (Close Finish)

    Rays 3, Blue Jays 3  Top 9, 0 OutsSep 6 3:23 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY ROCCO BALDELLI (3) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT
    IN THE 9TH OFF B.J. RYAN SCORED CARLOS PENA.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 2, TORONTO 3
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: W AYBAR (.252, 0-FOR-2, BB)

    Rays 2, Blue Jays 3  Top 9, 0 OutsSep 6 3:15 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Rays 2, Blue Jays 3  Top 9, 0 OutsSep 6 3:15 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY LYLE OVERBAY (14) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 4TH OFF JAMES SHIELDS.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 0, TORONTO 3
    DUE UP FOR TORONTO: S ROLEN (.249, 0-FOR-1)

    Rays 0, Blue Jays 3  Bot 4, 0 OutsSep 6 2:10 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY LYLE OVERBAY (13) TO CENTER WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 2ND OFF JAMES SHIELDS.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 0, TORONTO 2
    DUE UP FOR TORONTO: S ROLEN (.249, 8 HR, 40 RBI)

    Rays 0, Blue Jays 2  Bot 2, 0 OutsSep 6 1:39 PM


  • AL
    AT TORONTO - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY ALEX RIOS SCORED MARCO SCUTARO.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, A RIOS ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 0
    TORONTO 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR TORONTO: V WELLS (.299, 16 HR, 66 RBI)

    Rays 0, Blue Jays 1  Bot 1, 0 OutsSep 6 1:21 PM