by Steve Carney
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (620 WDAE) - Chris Archer threw six strong innings, and Evan Longoria his his first home run of the season, leading the Tampa Bay Rays to a 7-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay got on the board in the second inning, as Matt Joyce lined a double to right with two away and scored on a Ryan Hanigan single to center.
The Rays added to their lead in the fourth, as David DeJesus tripled past Jose Bautista in right. Desmond Jennings brought in DeJesus with a double and scored on a Ben Zobrist single. Evan Longoria then singled Zobrist to third, and the rays second baseman scored when James Loney grounded into a double play.
Archer cruised until the fourth, when Jose Bautista walked to lead off the inning, moved to third on a double by Adam Lind, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Dioner Navarro. Maicer Izturis then reached on an infield single up the middle, with Lind scoring from second base. However, Archer was able to get out of the frame with no further damage.
The right-hander finished six innings, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out seven to earn his first win of 2014.
The Rays put things out of reach in the seventh, as DeJesus doubled with one out in the inning, and after a walk to Jennings, moved to third on a fielder's choice by Zobrist. Longoria then brought everyone in with the team's first home run of the regular season to make it 7-2.
The home run was Longoria's was number 163 of his career, tying Carlos Pena for the most in franchise history.
The victory earns Tampa Bay a split of their four-game series with the Blue Jays. The Rays have not lost a home series to Toronto since April 6-8 2007, a span of 21 series.
The Texas Rangers come to Tropicana Field to start a three-game series starting Friday. Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 3.94 in 2013) will get the start in the opener, taking on Joe Saunders (11-16, 5.26 ERA in '13). Pregame coverage begins with the Suncoast Hyundai Dealers Inside Pitch at 6:00 on 620 WDAE and 95.3 FM, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10.
NOTES: Thursday's announced attendance was 9,571, the lowest for a Rays game since April 30, 2012, when 9,458 fans saw Tampa Bay beat Seattle 3-2 in 12 innings. After the game, INF Sean Rodriguez was reinstated from the paternity list and INF Vince Belnome was optioned to Triple-A Durham. Rodriguez and wife Giselle welcome their fourth child, a nine pound baby boy Thursday.