TORONTO — Harold Ramirez and Randy Arozarena smacked two-run homers to spark a six-run fifth inning in the Tampa Bay Rays’ 7-3 win against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
The Blue Jays (44-36) lost their third game in a row to the Rays (43-36) to drop the five-game set 3-2 and split their week-long eight-game homestand at 4-4.
The mood around the home team already was sombre as the Blue Jays mourned the sudden passing of 17-year-old Julia Budzinski, the eldest of three children of first-base coach Ken Budzinski and his wife, Monica.
Toronto announced Budzinski would take time away from the Blue Jays to grieve with his family.
The Blue Jays were tied 1-1 through four innings after leaving eight runners on base, including six stranded in scoring position.
In the fifth inning before 35,757 at Rogers Centre, Blue Jays starter Ross Stripling (4-3) yielded a leadoff double to Taylor Walls, who scored Yandy Diaz’s single to right field.
Ramirez drilled a two-run shot to right field to end Stripling’s day. He lasted 4 ⅔ innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits with three strikeouts and a walk.
Stripling had not allowed more than two runs in five straight starts.
Toronto reliever Trent Thornton replaced Stripling and was greeted with a solo homer from Ji-Man Choi and a two-run blast to straightaway centre field two batters later to Arozarena.
The Rays enjoyed a 14-hit offensive outing with Choi leading the way with three hits.
Tampa Bay starter Shane Baz (1-1) squeezed out of jams in the first four innings, leaving the bases loaded in the first and fourth frames.
But Baz finished strong, retiring the final eight batters he faced in his 94-pitch, six-inning performance. He struck out seven, walked two, and surrendered a run on seven hits.
The Rays snatched a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a high throwing error from Toronto third baseman Matt Chapman.
The Blue Jays squared the game in the third inning. George Springer led off with a double down the left-field line. He advanced to third on Bo Bichette’s groundout to short and scored on a single to left from Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Toronto added a run in the eighth inning and another in the ninth. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drove a double down the right-field line. He advanced to third on a groundout from Raimel Tapia and scored on Chapman’s long sacrifice fly to right-centre field.
In the final inning, Guerrero socked a double down the right-field line to score Cavan Biggio. It was Guerrero’s third hit of the game.
GAUSMAN UPDATE: The Blue Jays will wait to see how Kevin Gausman’s ankle contusion feels after the club’s charter flight to California before determining whether he will make his next scheduled start on Thursday. Gausman felt some stiffness and soreness a day after taking a 100-m.p.h. line drive off his right ankle, forcing him to leave the opener of the Blue Jays doubleheader in the second inning on Saturday.
UP NEXT: The Blue Jays travel to the West coast to open a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics, followed by a four-game set against the Seattle Mariners. Alek Manoah (9-2) will start for the Blue Jays on Monday. Lefty Cole Irvin (2-6) will take the mound for the Athletics. The series opener in Oakland will mark the Blue Jays’ halfway point of their schedule, their 81st outing.
Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press