ST. PETERSBURG — As the Rays head to Toronto to face the surging AL East leaders, Evan Longoria is hoping a torrid streak at home will help him end his road woes.
Tampa Bay’s All-Star third baseman lashed three hits in Sunday’s 8-5 victory against Boston and his solo home run in the fourth inning ended a 17-game homerless drought, which was two games short of tying the longest of his career.
“That was really nice,’’ Rays manager Joe Maddon said after Longoria raised his batting average to .271 by going 8-for-16 in the sweep of the Red Sox. “Evan felt really good today. Even after he struck out in the first inning, he told me he felt really good. You saw what happened after that.’’
Longoria is hitting .340 at Tropicana Field, with four home runs and 14 RBIs in 26 games. On the road, Longoria is saddled with a .198 average through 25 games, with one homer and only nine RBIs.
“We hit rock bottom there for a while,’’ said Longoria, who batted second in Sunday’s series finale. “Sometimes, you’ve got to do that to go up.’’
At the ready
With his second three-run homer in the past four games, Sean Rodriguez surpassed his homer total from the entire 2013 season.
Rodriguez blasted a walk-off shot Thursday against Oakland and he crushed a go-ahead three-run homer against Boston’s Craig Breslow as a pinch-hitter during a five-run seventh inning that snapped a 3-3 deadlock.
“Sean leads the team in home runs (six) and he’s hitting the ball very hard,’’ Maddon said. “He’s playing great baseball and Sean Rodriguez is always ready.’’
Maddon said Rodriguez didn’t deserve to be one of three players ejected after both benches emptied in the bottom of the seventh.
Before Sunday’s game, the Rays honored the Jesuit High baseball team, which won the Class 5A state title. ... Former Lakeland High standout Drew Hutchison is slated to start ronight for Toronto as the Rays begin an eight-game road trip. ... Tampa Bay’s Brandon Guyer posted his first career stolen base. ... Rays OF Wil Myers registered his third RBI in 18 games with a fifth-inning forceout. ... Maddon won his 700th game as Rays manager.