(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays try to stay in the postseason mix and
win their third straight game on Friday when they open a three-game series
with the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field.
Tampa's fleeting hopes got a huge boost on Thursday when it rallied from three
runs down to post an improbable 7-4 win over the Boston Red Sox in the finale
of a four-game set. B.J. Upton's three-run game-winning homer capped a six-
run ninth for the Rays, who are now 5 1/2 games back of Oakland for the final
AL wild card spot.
"We've been missing a little bit of the magic this year, but it couldn't get
any more magical than 2nite," Rays manager Joe Maddon said via his Twitter
account. "There has never been any quit here."
Getting the call for the Rays in the opener will be righty James Shields, who
is 14-9 with a 3.77 ERA. Shields was roughed up a bit by the New York Yankees
on Saturday, as he allowed four runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings.
"I've got some bullets left. I've thrown a few innings this year," Shields
said. "But right now, I feel really good. My body feels good."
Shields beat the Jays the last time he faced them and is 10-5 lifetime against
them with a 3.40 ERA in 20 starts.
Toronto, meanwhile, will counter with righty Carlos Villanueva, who is 7-5
with a 3.42 ERA. Villanueva surrendered just two runs on four hits to the Red
Sox on Saturday, but took a no-decision in 3-2 loss.
"I'm glad I was able to keep the team in it," Villanueva said. "Go deep into
the game. It was nice being out there for the first time this year in the
He tossed six scoreless innings to beat the Rays back on Aug. 30 and is 1-2 in
eight games (3 starts) against them with an 8.41 ERA.
Toronto is still licking its wounds after a three-game sweep at the hands of
the Yankees that culminated with a 10-7 setback on Thursday.
Moises Sierra homered and drove in three for the Blue Jays, who have dropped
seven of their last nine.
Aaron Laffey (3-6) was touched for five runs -- four earned -- on two hits and
five walks over three-plus innings to take the loss.
Tampa is 11-4 this season against the Jays and has won its last five at home
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