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Upton homers again as Rays sweep Blue Jays

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Associated Press
9/23/2012 4:54:52 PM
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- B.J. Upton hit his eighth home run in 14 games and Jeremy Hellickson won for the first time in more than a month to help the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-0, Sunday.

It was the fifth straight win for the Rays, who started the day 3 1/2 games behind the Oakland Athletics in the race for the AL's second wild-card spot.

Hellickson (9-10) pitched 5 2-3 innings, giving up five hits and two walks while striking out six. The right-hander has given up only 16 runs in his last eight starts, but has won only two of them. Sunday marked his first win since Aug. 20.

Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 44th save.

Upton's 26th home run came in the first inning off Chad Jenkins, who was making his first major league start.

Evan Longoria, who had two of Tampa Bay's seven hits, drove in the other runs with a double in the eighth off Brandon Lyon.

Jenkins (0-2) worked five innings, giving up only one hit after Upton's first-inning home run.

The Rays, who lead the AL with 111 errors, relied on big defensive plays to preserve their 15th shutout of the season. With Anthony Gose on third base and two outs in the Toronto seventh, reliever J.P. Howell ran down a chopper past the mound and threw out Colby Rasmus.

Yunel Escobar had three hits for the Blue Jays, who have lost six straight and 10 of 12.

NOTES: The Rays won the season series, 14-4, and have won 17 straight home series against Toronto . . . Rays C Stephen Vogt went 0 for 2 in his first major league start as a position player, and is 0 for 21 on the season. . . . In the four games preceding Sunday, the Rays scored 43 runs, the most they have ever scored over a four-game span.

B.J. Upton Ben Zobrist (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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