DeLuca hits go-ahead homer in 8th as Rays rally to beat Blue Jays 5-4 for 11th win in 15 games

TORONTO (AP) — Jonny DeLuca hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning and the Tampa Bay Rays overcame a four-run deficit to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 on Saturday for their fourth straight win and 11th in 15 games.

“Today was a huge win,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “To come back right there, we should be feeling pretty good about ourselves.”

Yandy Díaz reached base five times and Amed Rosario hit a two-run single for the Rays, who have won four of five series.

“We’re playing really good baseball right now and making sure we pick the next guy up,” Rays right-hander Zach Eflin said.

Erasmo Ramírez (3-0) worked one inning for the win, Jason Adam pitched the eighth and Garrett Cleavinger finished for his third save in three chances.

Four of Tampa Bay’s past six games have been decided by a single run. The others were two-run decisions.

“It always feels better to win those close ones,” DeLuca said. “Those are big.”

Isaac Paredes singled off right-hander Nate Pearson (0-1) to begin the eighth with Tampa Bay trailing 4-3. DeLuca followed with a first-pitch drive that bounced off the top of the wall in left field and went out, his second home run.

DeLuca said he went to the plate thinking of bunting pinch runner Richie Palacios into scoring position, but decided to change his strategy.

“They didn’t put anything on,” DeLuca said of the bunt. “I was thinking about doing it myself and then I was like, ‘First pitch, I’m going to sit heater.’ I ended up getting it and putting a good swing on it."

Rosario singled and José Caballero walked before Pearson was replaced by right-hander Trevor Richards, who escaped the jam without allowing another run.

Toronto (19-25) has lost four of five and is winless in eight series. Before the game, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said his struggling team can’t wait too long to get back to .500 and rejoin the postseason race.

“We believe in this talent, we believe there is time left, but there is a massive sense of urgency and we need to get it turned around soon,” Atkins said.

Toronto began the day second to last in the majors with 155 runs in 43 games. Only the Chicago White Sox (130) had scored fewer.

The Blue Jays dropped struggling outfielder George Springer from the leadoff spot to sixth and put Davis Schneider at the top of the order.

A four-time All Star and the MVP of the 2017 World Series, Springer came in batting .196 with three home runs and six RBIs. He opened the scoring with a two-out RBI single in the fourth.

Toronto added three more in the fifth. Daulton Varsho hit a two-run double and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. followed with an RBI single.

The Rays chased Toronto right-hander Kevin Gausman with a three-run sixth. Rosario drove in two with a bases-loaded single and Caballero’s base hit capped the rally.

“You’ve got to give them credit,” Gausman said. “Not many times I get got late in my outing. It’s usually early or not.”

Gausman allowed three runs and eight hits. He walked one and struck out six.

Eflin allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He walked none and struck out three.

Paredes had two hits, extending his career-best streak of reaching safely to 17 games.

RAYS TRADE

Tampa Bay acquired LHP Richard Lovelady from the Cubs in exchange for minor league LHP Jeff Belge. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rays transferred RHP Jacob Waguespack (right shoulder) to the 60-day IL.

UP NEXT

RHP Alek Manoah (0-1, 4.91) is scheduled to make his third start of the season as Toronto tries to avoid its first sweep in Sunday’s series finale. RHP Aaron Civale (2-3, 5.83) is scheduled for the Rays.

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