ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Zach Eflin became major leagues' third seven-game winner, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat struggling Alek Manoah and Toronto 6-3 on Thursday to take three of four from the Blue Jays.
Eflin (7-1) allowed one run and six hits in seven innings as the major league-leading Rays (37-15) stole seven bases for the second time this season and improved to 24-5 at home. He joined teammate Shane McClanahan (8-0) and Minnesota's Joe Ryan (7-1) as the big leagues winningest pitchers.
Manoah (1-5), a 16-game winner last year, extended his winless streak to nine starts after giving up five runs, three hits and five walks over three innings with six strikeouts. He threw just 44 of 87 pitches for strikes and his ERA climbed from 5.15 to 5.53, The Rays stole five bases while he was on the mound.
Toronto (26-25) has lost nine of 11 and is 8-15 in May. The Blue Jays are 6-15 in division play after going 43-33 last year. They trail the Rays by 10 1/2 and the teams do not meet again until six games during the final 10 days of the season.
After the Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against Jake Diekman, Colin Poche entered and walked Bo Bichette on four pitches and gave up a sacrifice fly to pinch-hitter Ernie Clement. Poche got his first save this season when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounded into a game-ending forceout.
Wander Franco tripled and scored on Randy Arozarena's single during Tampa Bay's two-run first. Arozarena stole second and took third as Brandon Lowe struck out and reached firston a wild pitch. Harold Ramírez then hit a potential inning-ending double-play that second baseman Cavan Biggio bobbled and could only get a forceout at second as Arozarena to come home.
Josh Lowe made it 3-1 on a run-scoring double in the second. Manoah, who threw 62 pitches through two innings, avoided further damage by striking out Brandon Lowe to stranded the bases loaded.
Taylor Walls stole third as part of a double steal and scored on an errant throw by catcher Alejandro Kirk in a two-run third as the Rays went up 5-1.
Franco stole his 16th and 17th bases and scored to put the Rays ahead on Arozarena's seventh-inning single off Adam Cimber.
Toronto's Brandon Belt had a first-inning RBI single.
Rays 1B Luke Raley sent the ball he struck out Gurrerro in the eighth inning Tuesday to the Blue Jays clubhouse for the slugger to sign. Guerrero hit a grand slam off Raley in the ninth,
Tampa Bay optioned RHP Ben Heller to Triple-A Durham one day after he was called up. He warmed up in the bullpen Wednesday but hasn't gotten into a big league game since Sept. 4, 2020.
Blue Jays: C Danny Jansen (left groin tightness) underwent an MRI.
Blue Jays: RHP Kevin Gausman (2-3) will go Friday night against Minnesota RHP Louis Varland (2-0).
Rays: RHP Cooper Criswell (0-1) will start or follow an opener against Los Angeles Dodgers RHP Noah Syndergaard (1-3) on Friday night.
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