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Must C Cannon: Upton fires a strike to get Vizquel

TORONTO -- Joe Maddon wore a big smile while describing what happened in the Rays' 5-4 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday.

"Fernando gets his 40th save and B.J. gets his first," the Rays manager said.

B.J. Upton threw out Omar Vizquel at the plate to end the game, which is exactly how the game ended the night before -- except the Rays were on the losing end of that play.

"That's unheard of, unheard of," said Matt Joyce, who fueled the Rays' offense with a home run and a two-run double.

Joyce's comments were well founded, since the endings to Friday's and Saturday's games were the only two Major League games this season that ended when the game-tying run was thrown out at the plate. Saturday's brought the Rays their first such win in said fashion.

By winning, the Rays moved to 72-61 on the season, while snapping a two-game losing streak. They are now 2-4 on their current road trip.

Fernando Rodney had to enter the game with one out in the eighth inning to clean up a mess made by the normally dependable Joel Peralta. The extra work appeared to get to the Rays' closer, who walked Omar Vizquel to start the ninth. A sacrifice bunt moved Vizquel to second. One out later, Colby Rasmus singled to center field.

Initially, Upton couldn't tell if he had a chance to catch the ball in the air. Once he realized he couldn't, he hustled in to try to throw out the runner at the plate.

"I played if off the hop, got to my backside and let it go," Upton said.

Molina went up to grab the high throw, but managed to maintain his position like a power forward boxing out for rebounding position in basketball. In the process, Vizquel had no other option but to go to Molina's left. The scene that unfolded resembled a squirrel trying to scurry around a giant redwood. Molina held his ground and tagged out Vizquel, setting off a similar celebration to the one the Blue Jays enjoyed less than 24 hours earlier, when Moises Sierra threw out Elliot Johnson at the plate to end Friday night's game.

"I knew he was coming home, I [didn't] have a chance to think at that time," Molina said. "I know it was a good throw and I got the ball, and after that he hit me. What I did, I don't really know what he did. I just [tried] to avoid having him score. I did and we won the game -- and that's all that matters."

Blue Jays manager John Farrell said he knew there would be a bang-bang play, and that Upton has one of the strongest throwing arms in the American League.

"We forced Upton to throw a 300-foot strike to end the ballgame -- and he did," Farrell said.

Upton wasn't able to see what happened at home.

"I just saw the umpire say, 'Out,' and the game was over and that's all I was worried about," Upton said.

Rodney came away with his 40th save of the season, but the Rays' closer seemed happiest about his team winning the game.

"That's why we lost last night, we [got] payback [today]," Rodney said.

In the early going, the Rays looked like they might end up winning a laugher. Ryan Roberts hit a solo home run to left-center field off Henderson Alvarez with one out in the third -- and the Rays' offense did not stop there.

Ben Zobrist had an RBI double and Joyce, who was hitting just .222 in his last 49 games, doubled home two more in the inning to give the Rays a 4-0 lead. Joyce would add a solo home run in the fifth, which gave the Rays a 5-2 lead.

"You know what? That was probably one of the worst months I've had in my professional career -- if not the worst," Joyce said. "Man, it's tough to deal with sometimes, emotionally, physically, mentally. Everything's a struggle, and you have to kind of battle your way back and fight through it."

In addition to the early scoring, Jeff Niemann started for the Rays and appeared to be cruising in his return from the disabled list. But after retiring Rajai Davis on a flyout to right field to start the fourth, Niemann had to leave the game due to tightness in his right arm.

J.P. Howell took over and served one up to Edwin Encarnacion, who hit a 3-2 pitch deep over the wall in left-center field to cut the Rays' lead to 4-2.

In surrendering the two runs, Howell saw his team-record scoreless-innings streak snapped at 27 1/3 innings. He had not given up a run in his previous 24 outings. The home run also ended a streak of 18 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings by the bullpen.

Peralta started the eighth for the Rays trying to protect a 5-2 lead, but gave up a two-run single to Adam Lind and left two aboard when Rodney took over. Rodney eventually escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth by striking out Kelly Johnson and Sierra.

Entering Saturday afternoon's game, the Rays had lost 11 of their last 12 one-run games.

"We needed to win one of these, we've been losing these," Maddon said. "This is kind of nice to win one of these."

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