Burrell's walk-off homer lifts Rays past Blue Jays

Jul 8, 2009 - 7:38 AM By FRED GOODALL AP Sports Writer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.(AP) -- Pat Burrell circled the bases, preparing himself for the reception brewing at home plate.

The slumping Tampa Bay slugger may be off to a slow start with his new team, but he hadn't forgotten what it was like to be engulfed by teammates after a game-winning home run. Instead of trotting into the celebration upright, he crouched low to protect himself.

"If you don't go in firm, you're going to get into trouble," Burrell mused Tuesday night after his two-out, 11th-inning shot beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-1. "I figured I'd go in and try to move the pile."

The victory not only stopped a four-game losing streak, it bolstered Burrell's confidence that he's on the verge of turning his season around.

The 32-year-old missed 29 games in May and June with a neck strain and is hitting .222 with four homers and 25 RBIs. He's 10 for 64 since coming off the disabled list, but is hopeful the worst is behind him.

"We got a long way to go, and I haven't been performing. It's that simple," said Burrell, who signed a $16 million, two-year contract with the Rays in January after spending the first nine season of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies.

"As you go along in the season, you try to build on things," he added. "I'm hoping this is one of those times."

The AL champions stopped a skid that included three losses to rookie pitchers, but hardly pulled out of an offensive funk - managing just two hits in six innings against Marc Rzepczynski in the 23-year-old lefty's major league debut.

Toronto's Scott Rolen tied it in the eighth with a run-scoring single that extended his career-best hitting streak to 24 games.

Rzepczynski walked four and struck out seven. Shawn Camp worked three scoreless innings before being replaced by Brandon League (1-4), who walked Ben Zobrist before giving up Burrell's homer.

"He pitched a lot better I think than all of us felt he was going to pitch," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "He will certainly get another chance."

Orioles 12, Mariners 4=

At Seattle, Luke Scott had three hits and a career-high seven RBIs, and Mark Hendrickson (4-4) pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings to lead Baltimore.

Chris Jakubauskas (5-6) took the loss.

Rangers 8, Angels 5=

At Anaheim, Calif., Andruw Jones hit a three-run homer to help the Rangers moved back into a tie with the Angels for first place in the AL West.

Juan Rivera hit two solo homers and Chone Figgins drove in two runs for Los Angeles.

Derek Holland (3-5), the second of six Texas pitchers, allowed an unearned run in two innings to get the win.

John Lackey (3-4) gave up six runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings.

Red Sox 5, Athletics 2=

At Boston, Josh Beckett became Boston's second 10-game winner and fellow All-Star Jason Bay hit his 20th homer.

Beckett (10-3) matched the win total of another Boston all-star, Tim Wakefield, and remained unbeaten at home this season with five wins in eight starts.

Jonathan Papelbon, who also made the All-Star team, struck out the side in the ninth for his 21st save in 23 opportunities.

Tigers 8, Royals 5=

At Detroit, Marcus Thames hit a three-run homer to back Justin Verlander, who struck out 11 to run his AL-best total to 141, the most by a Tigers pitcher before the All-Star game in 37 years.

Verlander (9-4) gave up five runs and seven hits over six innings.

Bruce Chen (0-3) allowed seven runs and five walks in 4 2-3 innings.

Yankees 10, Twins 2=

At Minneapolis, CC Sabathia (8-5) allowed one run and three hits in seven innings and New York roughed up Twins starter Scott Baker.

Baker (6-7) was 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his only two previous starts against the Yankees. He gave up five runs and nine hits in three innings, his shortest outing of the season.

Mark Teixeira had four hits and Brett Gardner added three and two RBIs for the Yankees, who have beaten the Twins 16 times in their last 22 meetings.

White Sox 10, Indians 6=

At Chicago, Paul Konerko hit three home runs, including a go-ahead grand slam in the sixth inning for the White Sox.

Konerko, who drove in a career-high seven runs, became the 12th player in White Sox history to hit three homers in a game. Jose Valentin was the last White Sox to hit three home runs in a game on July 30, 2003.

Mark Buehrle (9-2) allowed three runs and scattered seven hits in seven innings for Chicago.

Jeremy Sowers (2-7) allowed four runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings and Grady Sizemore homered twice for Cleveland.






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