ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The last time the Toronto Blue Jays won a series at Tropicana Field was back in 2007 and Dioner Navarro was the catcher for the losing Tampa Bay Rays.
Now he helped the Blue Jays clinch their first series victory since then, homering for the second straight game as Toronto won 7-4 on Wednesday night.
"Better later than never, right?" Navarro said after spotting the Blue Jays an early 2-0 lead with a two-run homer off Chris Archer. They went to win their fourth straight game.
By winning the first two games of the three-game series, the Blue Jays clinched their first series victory at Tropicana Field since April 6-8, 2007, breaking a string of 21 straight non-winning series here. They had lost 17 consecutive road series against the Rays (including one in Orlando) before splitting a four-game series on May 6-9, 2013.
"For one series we were able to get the monkey off our back," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "Now we’ve got to get greedy and go out and win that one tomorrow, come up with a great series."
Edwin Encarnacion also homered for Toronto, and Adam Lind had four straight hits and scored twice. Encarnacion’s 29th homer completed a three-run run fifth inning off Archer (8-8) that gave Toronto a 6-0 lead.
Marcus Stroman pitched five shutout innings before giving up two runs on four hits in the sixth. Stroman (9-5) gave up seven hits and two runs in six innings, winning his second straight start.
"We’re starting to put it together," he said. "The offence and the confidence have been there all year. It’s just starting to finally click, I feel.
Aaron Sanchez pitched the ninth for his second save.
Archer (8-8) gave up six runs in six innings and yielded 10 hits for the second straight time.
"My job is to get people out and I didn’t do a good job of that, didn’t execute the pitches," he said. "Both (homers) I had two strikes on. Didn’t execute, period."
Evan Longoria drove in Tampa Bay’s first run with a two-out single in the sixth, then hit his 18th home run off Dustin McGowan in the eighth.
Blue Jays: Encarnacion was the DH for the second straight game due to minor back discomfort… . RHP R.A. Dickey, Tuesday night’s winning pitcher, was hit in the head by a line drive during batting practice. The Jays said he is not injured.
Rays: CF Desmond Jennings (bruised left knee) was out of the lineup for the sixth consecutive games and could miss a few more games. … LHP Matt Moore, coming back from elbow ligament replacement surgery in April, could play catch for the first time next week.
Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi (10-11) and Blue Jays LHP Mark Buehrle (11-9) are the scheduled starters in the finale of a three-game series Thursday night. Odorizzi is coming off a 7-0 win over Boston Saturday in which he allowed one hit in seven innings.
DELAYS OF GAME
The game was held up for 30 minutes during the third inning when lightning struck a nearby power station, knocking out a bank of lights. There was a delay of 3 minutes, 21 seconds when an umpire review confirmed Encarnacion’s home run, and another delay if 1:24 when a replay challenge gave the Rays’ James Loney an RBI single after he had been called out.