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Civale sparkles, Lowe hits 4th career grand slam to propel Rays over Blue Jays 8-2

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Aaron Civale allowed one run over six innings and Brandon Lowe hit his fourth career grand slam to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to a 8-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.

Sporting retro Devil Rays uniforms the team will wear for 13 Friday home games this year, the Rays rebounded from a lopsided opening loss and drew a crowd of 18,653 at Tropicana Field — down from the announced sellout of 25,025 the AL East rivals attracted the previous day.

Tampa Bay improved to 12-3 in the throwback jerseys they’ve donned on Devil Rays Days since the start of last season.

Civale, a trade deadline acquisition who helped the Rays withstand injuries and make their fifth straight playoff appearance, limited the Blue Jays to George Springer’s solo homer and three singles before turning over a five-run lead to the bullpen.

“He just kept commanding the baseball,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “It’s elite command we know that he has. Felt like today he had everything going — cutter, curveball and the fastball.”

Chris Devenski pitched two scoreless innings and Jason Adam yielded a sacrifice fly in the ninth while finishing a six-hitter.

Toronto starter Chris Bassitt (0-1) won a career-high 16 games last season, tying Tampa Bay’s Zach Eflin for the most in the American League. The right-hander began strong, striking out his first four batters, but ran into trouble in the third when shortstop Bo Bichette’s fielding error helped the Rays load the bases with no outs.

Lowe’s grand slam to right-center on a 2-2 pitch traveled 444 feet. The second baseman had 21 homers and 68 RBIs last season, but spent two stints on the injured list and didn’t play after Sept. 21.

“It’s nice to have him in the lineup. If we can keep him in the lineup we’re going to get a lot of those swings,” Cash said.

Randy Arozarena’s RBI single made it 5-1 in the fifth. José Caballero drove in a run in the sixth and defending AL batting champion Yandy Díaz tacked on a two-run single in the eighth.

Bassitt allowed six hits and five runs — four earned — over five innings. The 35-yearold right-hander didn’t feel he pitched poorly.

“I felt really good. I felt I threw my pitches, basically where I wanted them … (except for) one pitch,” Bassitt said. “Obviously he’s an unbelievable hitter, had 20-plus homers whatever he had last year. I just can’t make that mistake.”

Springer also homered in Toronto’s 8-2 victory on Thursday. Alejandro Kirk drove in the Blue Jays other run with his sacrifice fly off Adam.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Kevin Gausman (shoulder fatigue) had a bullpen session. Manager John Schneider said the right-hander remains on target to start Sunday or Monday and throw about 70 to 75 pitches. … C Danny Jansen (fractured right wrist) is doing long toss and started taking dry swings with a bat.

Rays: Caballero was hit by a pitch in his right hand in the third inning, but remained in the game.

UP NEXT

RHP Zack Littell (3-6, 4.10 ERA in 2023) starts for Tampa Bay in the third game of the four-game series. Toronto counters with LHP Yusei Kikuchi (11-6, 3.86), who’s 5-1 over nine outings against the Rays with a 3.48 ERA.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

By FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer

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