September 12, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Nathan Karns throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, in Toronto. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)
The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn

TORONTO (AP) With some solid pitch calling, and a shot of power, Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan earned himself a dinner date with pitcher Nathan Karns.

Karns got his first major league win in his Tampa Bay debut, Hanigan homered for the first time in almost three months and the Rays beat the Blue Jays 1-0 Friday night to stop Toronto's four-game winning streak.

''I really relied on (Hanigan) today,'' Karns said. ''He did a great job behind the dish and got the only run of the game. I think I owe him a steak dinner.''

Karns (1-0) allowed two hits in seven innings, struck out a career-high eight and walked two. It was the fourth big league appearance for the 26-year-old right-hander, who went 0-1 in three starts with Washington last season.

''He did a nice job,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ''That really exceeded expectations.''

Karns was recalled Friday from Triple-A Durham, where he'd been due to start Game 4 of the Governor's Cup series against Pawtucket. He took the rotation spot of Drew Smyly when Tampa Bay decided to end the left-hander's season after a career-high 153 innings.

Even though the Rays are well out of the playoff race, Karns didn't need time to think when asked where he'd rather be pitching.

''Any time you can pitch in the big leagues, you can't take it for granted,'' Karns said. ''I would definitely say this, to me, is a little bit more special.''

After going 9-9 with a 5.08 ERA in 27 starts at Triple-A, Karns labored through a 25-pitch first inning. He walked two batters and hit a third, but he benefited from a double play.

''The nerves where a little overwhelming at first but then they wore off and everything settled in,'' Karns said.

Toronto didn't get its first hit until the fourth, when Danny Valencia hit a two-out double past a diving Brandon Guyer in left. Karns ended the inning by throwing a called third strike past Kevin Pillar.

Karns retired 10 of his 11 batters, allowing only Adam Lind's two-out single in the sixth. He finished his outing by retiring two pinch hitters, striking out Colby Rasmus and getting Munenori Kawasaki to fly out.

Jake McGee worked the eighth, and Grant Balfour finished for his 12th save in 15 chances as the Rays won for the first time in three games.

Hanigan homered into the left-field bullpen on J.A Happ's first pitch of the third. The homer was Hanigan's first since June 16 against Baltimore.

''He was kind of challenging some guys there in the first two innings,'' Hanigan said. ''I wanted to be aggressive if he was going to come in there and it worked out.''

Happ (9-10) allowed seven hits in seven innings, struck out seven and walked one. It marked the 18th straight game that a Blue Jays starter has worked at least six innings, Toronto's longest streak since a 19-game run in 1998.

''If you love good pitching, you saw it,'' Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.


Gibbons confirmed that LHP Mark Buehrle will start against the Rays Sunday, with rookie RHP Marcus Stroman pushed back to face Baltimore on Monday. Buehrle is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in five starts against Tampa Bay this season. Coupled with Thursday's off day, Stroman will get two extra days of rest.


Tampa Bay signed RHP Neil Wagner to a two-year minor league deal Friday. Wagner was released by Toronto earlier this month after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in August. Wagner, 2-4 with a 4.92 ERA in 52 career games, is expected to miss the 2015 season.


Blue Jays SS Jose Reyes was awarded first base after it appeared he had been hit on his left hand by a pitch in the eighth. While Reyes was being examined by the trainer, Maddon came out to challenge, saying McGee's pitch had hit the knob of the bat. The call was overturned following a video review, and Reyes popped out.


Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-3) faces Blue Jays RHP R.A. Dickey (12-12) on Saturday. Dickey has won his past three decisions, while the Rays have lost six straight games started by Hellickson.

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