Crawford's grand slam caps Rays' second straight ninth-inning rally

TORONTO -- Down by a run heading into the ninth inning, the Tampa Bay Rays had the Toronto Blue Jays right where they wanted them.

David Price became the American League's first eight-game winner, Carl Crawford hit a grand slam and the Rays rallied in the ninth again, beating the Blue Jays 7-3 on Wednesday night.

"It says a lot about this team, how we fight to the end," Crawford said. "We've been preaching that since spring training, play hard all nine innings and see what happens."

Price (8-2), who has won six of his past seven decisions, allowed two runs, none earned, and nine hits in eight innings. He walked none and struck out three.

"He's got such good stuff," catcher Dioner Navarro said. "If he stays ahead of hitters, it's really difficult to get him."

One night after Blue Jays closer Kevin Gregg walked five in the ninth as the Rays came back from a 5-3 deficit to win 7-6, Tampa Bay needed some late heroics again, erasing a 2-1 lead in its last at-bat.

"I like the idea that we followed up [Tuesday] with this," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Today could have been kind of lost had we not come back and won. And to win in this fashion two nights in a row definitely does something for your confidence."

Confidence may also be a question for the Blue Jays, who dropped consecutive heartbreakers and have lost eight straight series to Tampa Bay.

"Somewhere there we're going to get three outs in the ninth inning," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "Someday. Somewhere."

It was the third time this season the Rays have won when trailing after eight innings. They also did it on Opening Day against Baltimore.

The loser this time was Shaun Marcum (5-2), who had won five straight coming in but lost for the first time since April 16, against the Los Angeles Angels.

"Very tough," said Marcum, who allowed five runs, four earned, and 10 hits in 8 1/3 innings. "Late in the game they come back and battle and that's probably why they were in the World Series a couple of years ago and why they're leading the division."

Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist opened the ninth with singles before pinch-hitter John Jaso grounded into a fielder's choice, with Zobrist forced out at second. Navarro followed with a bunt up the first-base line, and Lyle Overbay's throw home was too late to get Rodriguez, who dived behind catcher John Buck and swiped his hand across the plate to score the tying run.

After Reid Brignac drove in the go-ahead run with a double, Jason Frasor came on and loaded the bases by walking B.J. Upton.

Scott Downs replaced Frasor and Crawford hit his third career grand slam, a drive to right. The homer was Crawford's fifth.

"That made it a little more comfortable right there," Maddon said.

Overbay hit an RBI double off Rafael Soriano in the bottom half, but Toronto couldn't get any closer.

Toronto took a 2-0 lead with unearned runs in the first and second. Fred Lewis hit a leadoff single in the first and went to third when Brignac couldn't come up with Adam Lind's grounder to short. Jose Bautista scored Lewis with a two-out single.

Overbay doubled in the second, went to third when Upton bobbled the ball in center and scored on Buck's sacrifice fly.

Bautista threw out Navarro at the plate as he tried to score on Upton's fly to right in the fifth, but Crawford followed with an RBI single, making it 2-1. That run was also unearned, thanks to a throwing error by Buck that allowed Brignac to reach safely.

The Rays thought they tied it in the sixth when Rodriguez came around from second on Zobrist's single, but Toronto appealed and third base umpire Angel Hernandez ruled Rodriguez failed to touch third base.

Rodriguez took a stutter step as he approached the bag, and replays showed he appeared to touch it with his left heel.

"I didn't want to jump at the bag and miss it so I said 'Let me [slow] down my steps down real good and make sure I catch it,'" Rodriguez said.

An angry Hernandez had little to say when asked about the play after the game.

"I have no comment," he said. "The guy missed the bag."

Maddon came out to argue with Hernandez, the same umpire who ejected him in the ninth inning Tuesday after Hernandez didn't grant time out on a pitch that struck out Carlos Pena.

"I did not want it to be a carry-over from last night," Maddon said. "It had nothing to do with last night. We just talked briefly and I left."

Pena didn't start Wednesday as Maddon stacked his lineup with right-handed hitters, hoping to take advantage of the fact that righties came in hitting .280 off Marcum, with left-handers hitting just .166. Switch-hitters Zobrist, Navarro and Willy Aybar all hit from the right side.

Game notes

Wells extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a double in the fourth. ... Rays SS Jason Bartlett (right hamstring) was feeling better, Maddon said, but his status for Friday's game at Texas is still undecided. Bartlett has not played since May 29. ... Gaston said LHP Brian Tallet, who came off the DL to throw 5 2-3 shutout innings Tuesday, had pitched well enough to earn another start. ... Attendance was 13,517.