TORONTO - Matt Garza and David Purcey locked up in another great pitching matchup, but this time it was Purcey who picked up the win.
The rookie left-hander pitched eight shutout innings, helping Toronto complete a three-game sweep with a 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, and extending the Blue Jays’ winning streak to eight games.
Jesse Carlson closed it out in the ninth for his second save and Toronto matched its longest winning streak since Apr. 14-22, 1999.
AL East-leading Tampa Bay lost for the fifth time in six games heading into a three-game series with second-place Boston that starts Monday night. The Rays have lost eight straight at Fenway Park.
“I think we might be putting a little bit of pressure on ourselves right now,” outfielder B.J. Upton said. “We’ve just got to loosen up and go play our game, play the way we’ve been playing all year.”
Garza (11-9), who allowed one run and six hits in seven innings, isn’t troubled by the Rays’ stumbling start to September, even though the Red Sox were just 2½ games back entering play Sunday.
“We know what we’ve got to do and we know what they’ve got to do,” Garza said. “Right now, we’re up top and they’re chasing us. If we can keep playing our ball, this thing will turn around. Right now we’re in a little bit of a rut. It’s nothing bad, we’ll turn it around.”
The Rays have never won a series in 25 tries at Fenway, losing 21 and splitting four.
“It’s going to be a big crowd, big series,” Upton said. “We just can’t let it get to us.”
Rod Barajas drove in the only run with a second-inning sacrifice fly for Toronto, which pulled within 9½ games of the Rays. The Blue Jays started the day eight games behind the Red Sox in the wild card race.
“It’s a give and take game,” Garza said. “Last time I faced him I did the same thing.”
Purcey (3-5) ended his outing by getting out of a jam in the eighth, loading the bases with two outs but getting Rocco Baldelli on a fly ball to left to end the inning.
“The best thing you can do is go right after somebody instead of trying to nibble too much, so that’s what I tired to do,” said Purcey, who allowed six hits, walked three and struck out seven.
“He kept us from stringing hits together,” Upton said. “He did a great job of keeping us off the bases today.”
Rays third baseman Willy Aybar hit a one-out single in the second but was thrown out at first by catcher Rod Barajas on a ball that bounced in the dirt. Jason Bartlett followed with a double, but Fernando Perez flied out to end the inning.
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