ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Kyle Drabek turned a tough beginning into a solid victory
Drabek overcame command issues to win for the first time on the road this season, Yunel Escobar hit a tiebreaking homer and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2 on Monday night.
Drabek (4-4), who entered 0-3 with a 5.23 ERA away from home, allowed two runs and three hits in six innings. The right-hander walked six, struck out three and had three wild pitches.
"The first three innings I kept spiking my fastball and it got me into a little trouble," Drabek said.
Drabek wound up throwing 118 pitches.
"He created some jams for himself, but found a way to make a big pitch to get out of an inning," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "When he was in the strike zone he was powerful, he had good late action and they weren't squaring him up."
Drabek is the first AL starter to walk at least six batters, have at least three wild pitches and still earn the victory since Juan Guzman of Texas on July 15, 1994 against the Blue Jays.
"Their guy, Drabek, did not want to throw the ball over the plate," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Tested our patience. We had a lot of opportunities, but we just could not get a hit against him."
Escobar put Toronto in front 3-2 on a solo homer off Jeremy Hellickson (4-1) in the sixth.
The Blue Jays took advantage of two Tampa Bay errors to go up 6-2 with a three-run eighth. Two runs scored when third baseman Sean Rodriguez was charged with an error for an errant throw to second on Jose Bautista's bases-loaded grounder.
Edwin Encarnacion added an RBI grounder later in the eighth.
The Rays took a 1-0 lead in the first when B.J. Upton was awarded a home run after a video review by the umpires determined his fly ball struck an overhanging catwalk.
"I knew it hit the catwalk, and I know the rules in here," Upton said. "I thought it would be an out, but it was a home run."
Upton hit a high fly to centre off Drabek and Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus moved toward the warning track, but the ball suddenly dropped in front of him and Upton reached second base.
"I just saw it off the bat and I turned and ran because he took a big swing on it," Rasmus said. "When I looked back, I already lost it."
It was decided that the ball hit in the area that according to the ground rules is a home run.
Hellickson gave up five runs — two earned — and eight hits over 7 1-3 innings.
Toronto took a 2-1 lead on Eric Thames' second-inning RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Kelly Johnson in the third.
Rodriguez got the Rays even at 2 on a run-scoring single during the third, an inning in which Drabek threw three wild pitches.
"One was a change up, one was a curveball and the other one was a fastball," Drabek said.
Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie was back in the lineup and went 0 for 4 after serving a four-game suspension. Lawrie was ejected last Tuesday by home plate umpire Bill Miller after complaining about consecutive called strikes. When Lawrie slammed his helmet on the ground, it bounced up and hit Miller on the right hip.
NOTES: Toronto DH-OF Vladimir Guerrero went 1 for 4 with a double in an extended spring training intrasquad game. "I think we'll have a better read on his situation come Wednesday, whether additional time is needed in extended (spring)," Farrell said. ... No timetable has been announced, but it appears OF-DH Hideki Matsui, playing at Triple-A Durham, may be ready to join the Rays in the near future. "It'll just be (based on) when he's ready," Maddon said. ... The Rays acquired INF Drew Sutton from Pittsburgh for a player to be named or cash considerations. He took the roster spot of INF Jeff Keppinger, who was put on the 15-day DL with a broken right big toe. Keppinger, hit by a foul ball in the dugout on Saturday, is expected to miss three to four weeks.