TORONTO (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays managed to double their season error total on Tuesday night. Even more surprising was the man responsible for all the miscues.
Jose Bautista, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie homered and the Toronto Blue Jays took advantage of a three-error game by normally sure-handed Evan Longoria to beat the Rays 7-3.
“Those were tough plays for Longoria,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It was just one of those nights. Those were not routine errors.”
It was a career-worst performance for Longoria, the AL’s Gold Glove third baseman in 2009 and 2010. He became the seventh player in Rays history to make three errors in a game.
“It was a rough day,” said Longoria, whose errors led to three unearned runs. “I’m just trying to make the aggressive play. Tonight it just happened to not work out three times.”
Tampa Bay had made only three errors in its 10 previous games and entered play Tuesday as one of two major league teams (along with Detroit) not to allow an unearned run all season.
Longoria’s teammates offered words of support in the wake of his unusually sloppy showing.
“In my mind, he’s the best third baseman in the game,” Carlos Pena said. “Those balls today were not easy.”
Starter Jeff Niemann also had praise for Longoria.
“I’m not going to lose an ounce of confidence in that guy,” Niemann said. “He’s been amazing over there and he’s going to be amazing.”
Matt Joyce homered for the Rays, who have lost six of eight.
Ricky Romero (2-0) allowed three runs and eight hits in six-plus innings. He’s won three of his past four starts against the Rays dating to last season.
“Ricky battled himself but he made a big pitch in a couple of big situations and got a couple of key double plays,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
Niemann (0-2) allowed five runs — two earned — on just three hits in five-plus innings.
“Niemann threw the ball really well, we just weren’t able to bail him out defensively,” Longoria said.
Bautista got the Blue Jays started with his first homer since Toronto’s season opener April 5, a solo drive to left in the first inning.
Toronto turned Longoria’s first two errors into three more runs in the third. J.P. Arencibia led off by reaching when Longoria bobbled his grounder and bounced the throw to first.
Yunel Escobar followed with a potential double-play grounder, but Longoria dropped the ball while taking it out of his glove. One out later, Bautista hit a sacrifice fly and Lind followed with his first homer of the season, a two-run shot.
Lind has been hot against Niemann, going 13 for 28 with three homers off the big righty. Maddon guessed those numbers might be even better.
“Lind, I think he’s 31 for 30 against Niemann,” Maddon said. “He’s just unbelievable.”
The Rays scored twice in the fifth. Joyce singled, Sean Rodriguez walked and Reid Brignac hit an RBI single, just his second hit of the season and his first since April 10 at Detroit. Rodriguez scored when Chris Gimenez followed with an infield single.
Longoria’s third error, a wild throw to first on Eric Thames’ infield single in the sixth, allowed Bautista to score from second, putting Toronto up 5-2.
“A lot of it lies on my shoulders today,” Longoria said. “We get out of those innings, it’s a different story.”
Joyce hit a leadoff homer in the seventh. The Blue Jays answered in the bottom half when Lind’s single off Jake McGee scored Escobar from second.
Lawrie capped it in the eighth with a leadoff shot to center, his second, against Burke Badenhop.
Jason Frasor, Francisco Cordero and Sergio Santos each worked one inning of scoreless relief for the Blue Jays, who had lost seven of their previous nine meetings with the Rays.
NOTES: After eight straight day games, Tampa Bay played at night for just the second time this season. … Rays OF B.J. Upton (back) was rained out in his rehab start at Double-A Montgomery. Upton will play both game of a doubleheader Wednesday, one in the outfield and one at DH, and remains on track to come off the DL Friday. … Bautista and Lind homered in the same game for the first time since Aug. 29, 2011, a 7-3 home victory over Tampa Bay in which Romero earned the win. … Attendance was 15,331, a season low.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.