Rays, Price ride four solo homers to victory
Roberts makes most of opportunity, driving in go-ahead run in eighth
TORONTO -- Friday night's home run contest between the Rays and Blue Jays was settled by a hit that stayed in the park.
Ryan Roberts' RBI single with two outs in the eighth led the Rays to an 8-5 comeback win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in front of 33,266, who saw each team homer four times.
By winning the first game of their 10-game road trip, the Rays claimed their 15th win in their last 17 games, moving to 56-41 on the season and picking up where they left off before the All-Star break.
"The point is, we put it down for a couple of days and picked it back up," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "And that's really a testament to the boys, the way they came out and played tonight."
Roberts was recalled from Triple-A Durham on Friday to take the place of James Loney on the active roster as the Rays first baseman went on the paternity list. Roberts' last stint with the team featured a two-home run performance against the Astros on July 1 before he was optioned back to Durham the next day.
Roberts made the most of his opportunity in the eighth.
With the score 4-4, Kelly Johnson singled through the middle off Brett Cecil to lead off the eighth. All-Star Steve Delabar replaced fellow All-Star Cecil to face pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez, who fell behind 0-2 before he managed to put down a bunt, advancing Johnson to second.
One out later, Roberts stepped to the plate and drove a 95-mph Delabar fastball into left field to score Johnson. Roberts alertly advanced to second on the throw home, which allowed him to score when Desmond Jennings doubled to left, putting the Rays up, 6-4.
"I saw that he was throwing a lot of strikes, throwing a lot of fastballs, so I just tried to prepare to jump on the first one instead of trying to see one," Roberts said.
Delabar said he left the ball up.
"And he just came out swinging," Delabar said. "Checked out the video and it was right over the middle, and he just came out, first pitch, hacking, and got on top of it."
Despite his heroics, Roberts is earmarked to be optioned back to Durham once Loney returns, perhaps as early as Sunday. Nevertheless, he has remained the consummate professional.
"It just feels good to get a hit," Roberts said. "I don't think about getting sent down and coming up and doing anything crazy. I just try to play my game the best I can every day."
Inside the Rays' clubhouse, the sentiments toward Roberts are universal.
"He doesn't stop working," said David Price, who started for the Rays and came away with his fourth win of the season. "There's a lot of guys who can get down on themselves when they go down from the big leagues to any Minor League level. He's level-headed. He knows whenever he comes back up, he's going to have a chance to contribute. And that's what he did tonight."
"Got to give the guy a lot of credit," Maddon said. "I mean, a lot of credit. He has not complained, sulked, nothing. He's gone down there like a professional. He's come back up here twice and he's helped us win some pretty big games. ... That's all about him. I give him, and his makeup and who he is credit, to be able to do something like that. And it's wonderful to watch. It's a credit to him."
Home runs haunted Price in the early going as Edwin Encarnacion and J.P. Arenecibia hit solo shots and Jose Bautista hit a two-run shot. The Rays left-hander had not surrendered three home runs in a game since July 15, 2011, against the Red Sox.
Ben Zobrist and Wil Myers countered the Blue Jays' power with solo shots off Esmil Rogers in the second and fourth innings as the Rays trailed 4-2.
Evan Longoria and Johnson added solo homers in the sixth to chase Rogers and tie the score at 4. The Blue Jays' right-hander has now surrendered seven home runs in his last two starts against the Rays.
"They've given me seven homers already in like 17 innings," Rogers said. "I'll try to think about it, look at the video, see what I can do better and help the team win."
Price allowed four runs on seven hits while striking out seven and walking one in seven innings. While his performance snapped a club-record streak of 15 consecutive quality starts, he managed to set a club record by posting his 27th consecutive inning without allowing a walk. The walk he issued to Mark DeRosa in the third snapped the streak.
The Rays added a pair of runs in the ninth thanks in part to a Jose Reyes throwing error.
"That was a big win for us tonight," Price said. "We hit on all cylinders. I didn't pitch as well as I could have, I don't feel. Our defense was still phenomenal. We put up  hits and eight runs. Rogers is an extremely tough starter, especially against us. And then the bullpen, the guys they run out there. Everybody's got a one-and-a-half ERA, so for us to get some quality at-bats and score some runs against those guys, it shows a lot about our hitters."