ST. PETERSBURG -- Alex Colome is back.
"Just vintage Colome," said starter Jake Faria, who got the win in the Rays' 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday night at Tropicana Field. "Going in there [and] attacking the strike zone. Flipping that dirty cutter in there whenever he can. He's looked really good."
Tampa Bay built a three-run lead early, then hung on when it got a little "hairy there late," according to Rays manager Kevin Cash. Colome then smoothed the choppy waters with a five-out save to preserve the win.
In victory, the Rays claimed the three-game series and moved one step closer to .500, at 15-16.
Sergio Romo started the eighth for the Rays to protect a 4-1 lead, but allowed a solo home run to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and an RBI single to Teoscar Hernandez that cut the lead to 4-3.
Cash decided to put the game in the hands of Colome, who led the Major Leagues last season with 47 saves.
"There wasn't a ton of thought tonight [about bringing in Colome for the final five outs]," Cash said. "We had a chance to win the game. I felt like where we were at, he was our best option at that point. Get him in."
Colome entered with one out in the eighth and a runner at first, and proceeded to retire Josh Donaldson on a groundout to second. He then struck out Yangervis Solarte to end the inning.
In the ninth, Colome retired the Blue Jays in order, striking out Kendrys Morales to end the game. He threw 19 pitches, 15 of which were strikes.
"Hopefully that sets up Alex in a good direction going forward, because we know the month of April was challenging," Cash said. "Looks like he's turning the corner. Outings like this, in theory, should really get your confidence going."
Colome went 2-3 with a 6.55 ERA in April and has blown two saves. The difference, according to Cash, has been the 24-year-old's strike-throwing.
"He's just throwing strikes," Cash said. "Getting ahead in the counts. He's throwing a lot of strikes. His stuff has pretty much been the same. Early on we just saw some errant fastballs up in the zone. Some backup cutters. You're going to see that at times. But if you watched the trajectory of his pitches from the side, it all looks the same right now.
"I think that's what makes him so special with the fastball-cutter combination. Hitters just don't recognize that cutter until late. And that's where he gets it off the end of the bat, or swings and misses."
Denard Span, C.J. Cron, Matt Duffy and Wilson Ramos drove in runs, and the Rays also benefited from three Blue Jays errors, each of which led to Rays runs.
Tampa Bay now has a chance to move to .500 on the season Sunday afternoon in the series finale.
"I think we've been close [to .500] a couple of times," Cash said. "But obviously we want to win tomorrow and keep it going."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Faria struck out Hernandez looking for the first out of the sixth, then Cash brought in Chaz Roe to pitch to Donaldson with runners at the corners and one out. Roe came through by getting Donaldson to ground into a double play to end the threat.
"The decision to take [Faria] out, we talk about that all the time," Cash said. "It's a challenging decision. He's probably not happy about it. I don't expect him to be happy about it. But at that point that was the game, with Donaldson coming up, and probably the best matchup for us to win it was with Chaz Roe in there, and it worked that time."
Span leads the team with 24 RBIs, the most by a Ray through the end of play on May 5 since Benjamin Zobrist (25) in 2011. Last season, Span did not reach 24 RBIs until July 31, his 82nd game.
HE SAID IT
"Yeah, it was a little earlier than I would have liked, but that's their call. Chaz is fantastic and he went in there and got the job done so it worked out in the end. That's their call and the situation called for it and that's how they felt and it was up to them." -- Faria, when asked whether he was frustrated about being taken out in the sixth
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Mallex Smith led off the fourth with an infield single. The Blue Jays challenged the close play at first base. After a delay of 1 minute, 53 seconds, the call stood. Smith went on to score the Rays' third run on Span's RBI single.
The Rays will wrap up their three-game series with the Blue Jays on Sunday in a 1:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Chris Archer will start for the Rays and Marco Estrada will start for the Blue Jays. Archer is averaging 5 1/3 innings per start this season, and is aiming to work deeper in the game.