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TB@TOR: Smyly allows two hits in first career shutout

TORONTO -- Drew Smyly isn't David Price, but his impression has been pretty spot on since the two lefties swapped uniforms.

Smyly hurled the first shutout of his career, facing one batter over the minimum, while Evan Longoria did the heavy lifting with his bat in a 8-0 blowout win over the Blue Jays to kick off a three-game set at Rogers Centre on Friday night.

"That was, for my money, the best pitching performance I've seen from a Ray in this ballpark," manager Joe Maddon said following Smyly's two-hit masterpiece.

Smyly allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the first, which was quickly erased when he got the following batter, Melky Cabrera, to hit into a double play. The only other batter who reached base was Steve Tolleson, with a two-out single in the third inning before Smyly retired 19 consecutive to end the game. He walked none, struck out four, and needed 105 pitches to dispose of the Blue Jays in front of 28,506.

Not one Blue Jays player made it into scoring position against Smyly, who guided the Rays to their American League-leading 17th shutout of the season. Tampa Bay, which blanked the Tigers in a 1-0 victory Thursday, recorded back-to-back shutouts for the first time since September 2013.

Smyly turned in his third consecutive quality start -- going seven-plus innings in each effort -- and lowered his ERA to 1.55 over four outings since the Rays acquired him at the non-waiver Trade Deadline as part of a three-team deal that saw Price land in Detroit.

Over those four starts, Smyly has struck out 23 while walking six in 29 innings. Price, meanwhile, has 32 strikeouts, six walks and a 2.35 ERA in four starts with Detroit. Price's lone loss as a member of the Tigers came Thursday in his return to Tropicana Field.

Maddon described Smyly's effort against Toronto as artistic.

"The fact that he went out there with a game plan, and him and [catcher] Curt Casali recreated that game plan," Maddon said, when asked to explain what made the outing artistic. "When theory and reality come together, that's a beautiful thing to watch. I would say the essence of theory and reality coming together equals art."

Smyly said it was the first complete game he has thrown since he pitched for the University of Arkansas.

The 25-year-old thanked his changeup -- and defense -- for helping him achieve the feat.

"It's not something starters get that often," said Smyly, who improved to 8-10 on the year with a 3.42 ERA. "You have to do your job and be on point from inning one to inning nine to usually throw a complete game. It's tough; not many do it. It's a good mark to reach and a big accomplishment for me."

Longoria fell a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with a walk and three RBIs to help Tampa Bay win its second consecutive contest.

The third baseman opened up the scoring in the second inning when he pounced on a first-pitch fastball from Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman to lead off the frame, depositing the ball into the left-field seats for his 16th homer. He added a single in the third and a two-run double during a four-run sixth inning, which blew the contest open.

Kevin Kiermaier (3-for-5) had a big day at the dish too, and thanks to some aggressive baserunning, he stretched a pair of would-be singles into doubles.

The first time came in the third with two outs, when he hit one up the middle to drive in Tampa Bay's second run of the game and caught Toronto center fielder Colby Rasmus off guard.

"You can be aggressive with two outs. That played a factor," Kiermaier said. "I just don't think a whole lot of outfielders are expecting anyone to do that. That's really tough to make a throw right there."

The Rays, who outhit Toronto, 14-2, added one more in the fifth before chasing Stroman from the contest the following inning. Three consecutive singles to begin the frame, including an RBI base hit from Desmond Jennings, ended Stroman's night. The rookie lasted five-plus innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on a career-high 10 hits. He walked three and struck out six, falling to 7-5 on the year.

"He battled tonight," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Stroman. "They had some good at-bats on him, they got some big hits. I thought overall, we played a lousy game, but Smyly took it to us pretty good."

Wil Myers made it 8-0 by hitting a solo homer off right-hander Todd Redmond in the eighth inning.

James Loney was the only player in the Rays lineup who was held hitless.

The Rays allowed three runs or fewer on the road for the 19th consecutive contest -- the second-longest streak in Major League history -- and are two games shy of tying the Major League record set by the Chicago Cubs in 1908.

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