Souza hits 3-run homer, Rays beat scuffling Blue Jays 7-2

Souza hits 3-run homer, Rays beat scuffling Blue Jays 7-2

ST. PETERBURG, Fla. — Steven Souza Jr. calmed down after a dustup and powered Tampa Bay past Toronto again.

The outfielder hit a three-run homer and was involved in a scrum after a slide during the Rays’ 7-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Sunday.

Corey Dickerson and Jesus Sucre also homered, and Jake Odorizzi (1-1) pitched six effective innings for the Rays, who took three of four from Toronto at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay has won 23 of its last 30 home series against the Blue Jays, going 61-33 during that stretch.

Toronto (1-5) got a home run from Josh Donaldson, who left with right calf tightness after grounding out in the sixth. The 2015 AL MVP didn’t play his first big league spring training game this year until March 20 because of a strained right calf.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Donaldson’s latest injury is in a different spot.

“We’ll get a better idea the next couple days (of the severity),” Gibbons said.

Both benches briefly emptied in the second when Toronto shortstop Troy Tulowitzki took issue with Souza’s slide into second base on Logan Morrison’s double-play grounder. No punches were thrown.

“If he thinks I’m trying to be malicious, he clearly doesn’t know who I am,” Souza said. “It’s unfortunate it turned into something like that because it was just baseball. Hopefully we just move on.”

Tulowitzki felt the slide was late.

“I figured, like, I should say something, not so much for myself but for other guys in the future to try to save injuries,” Tulowitzki said. “I don’t think he would want to injure me. You move past it. No hard feelings. I just want the game to be played the right way.”

Souza, hitting .417, completed a four-run third with a three-run drive off Marco Estrada (0-1) that put Tampa Bay up 4-2.

“He’s crushing the ball,” Rays centre fielder Kevin Kiermaier said.

Estrada, who was 0-3 with a 6.46 ERA in three starts last season against Tampa Bay, gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings.

Odorizzi, hit in the right hamstring by Jose Bautista’s inning-ending grounder in the third, allowed two runs and two hits. He retired 16 of his last 17 batters.

Jumbo Diaz and Tommy Hunter completed the three-hitter. Bautista’s two-out double in the ninth off Hunter was Toronto’s first hit since Kendrys Morales’ one-out double in the first.

Sucre added a two-run single in the eighth.

Donaldson hit a solo homer during a two-run first for the Blue Jays. The slugger has gone deep four times in 20 at-bats against Odorizzi.

Kiermaier was ejected by plate umpire Mike Muchlinski in the seventh for arguing a called third strike.

The Blue Jays won the series opener Thursday and had a lead in all three of their losses. Toronto has matched its worst start after six games, which came in 2014.

Tampa Bay completed its season-opening homestand at 5-2. It’s the first time the Rays have started a year by winning five of seven.

“We should feel good. We do feel good,” manager Kevin Cash said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: LHP J.P. Howell was put on the 10-day disabled list with left shoulder discomfort and RHP Dominic Leone was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.

Rays: OF Colby Rasmus (hip surgery) missed a third straight game on his rehab assignment with Class A Charlotte due to knee soreness stemming from a collision in the outfield Thursday night.

BATTING BLUES

Five Toronto regulars, Bautista (.136), Tulowitzki (.125), Morales (.208), Devon Travis (.130) and Russell Martin (.000), are hitting .208 or worse.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ (0-1) will face Milwaukee RHP Wily Peralta (1-0) in Toronto’s home opener Tuesday night. Toronto had a home attendance of 3,392,099 last season, its most since 1993 (4,057,947).

Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (1-0) and Yankees RHP Michael Pineda (0-1) are the scheduled starters for New York’s home opener Monday. Cobb, who allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings in a 4-1 win over New York on Wednesday night, will try to become the first pitcher to beat the Yankees twice within New York’s first seven games of a season since Tampa Bay’s Victor Zambrano in 2004.

Mark Didtler, The Associated Press

Canadian Press

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