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Top of the order leads Rays over Blue Jays

Sep 22, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Jonathan Aranda (62) hits a home run against the Toronto Blue Jays  in the first inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Jonathan Aranda hit a leadoff homer and scored three runs and Tampa Bay’s offense came alive with nine runs in the first four innings as the Rays ran away from the Toronto Blue Jays 10-5 on Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Rays (83-67) scored just two runs over three straight home losses to Houston, but they opened their final home series of the season with the top of the order producing against Toronto starter Jose Berrios (11-6).

Aranda went 2-for-4 with three runs, an RBI and a walk. Wander Franco had two hits, three RBIs and a run.

Randy Arozarena was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, a steal, two runs and two RBIs. Manuel Margot notched two hits, two runs and an RBI. David Peralta had two hits, one a double, and two RBIs.

In all, the top five hitters in the order posted 11 of the 12 hits, eight runs and nine RBIs.

Bulk-innings reliever Ryan Yarbrough (3-8) followed opener JT Chargois, but Yarbrough left in the third with right side discomfort, after one inning pitched.

The win pulled the Rays to within one game of the top American League wild-card spot, held by Toronto (84-66).

The Jays’ Whit Merrifield homered twice and drove in three runs, Teoscar Hernandez went deep and Bo Bichette (double, RBI) and George Springer (triple, run) had two hits.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was 0-for-3 with a walk to end his 14-game hitting streak — the AL’s longest run.

After frittering away late leads in losses Wednesday night, the East Division foes swung the bats viciously early Thursday.

Springer opened with a triple to left and scored on Bichette’s 42nd double.

However, Aranda ripped his second career homer, on an 0-1 curveball from Berrios. Arozarena’s one-out double scored Margot. Arozarena soon scored for a 3-1 lead, on Berrios’ wild pitch.

In the second inning, Hernandez and Merrifield each hit long shots to left off Yarbrough to tie it.

The home side took a 6-3 lead on two-out RBI singles by Margot, Franco and Arozarena in the bottom half — all off Berrios.

They created even more separation in the fourth when Franco’s two-run double and Peralta’s RBI infield single made it 9-3.

Peralta added another RBI on a double to score Arozarena in the sixth.

Merrifield’s two-run blast in the ninth rounded out the scoring.

–Field Level Media