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TB@TOR: Arencibia breaks the tie in the seventh

TORONTO -- It was an emotional night for Ricky Romero and J.P. Arencibia, but very little of that had to do with what took place on the diamond.

The two players dedicated Thursday night's game to the memory of Ryley James Martin, a 2-year-old boy who lost his battle with leukemia on Wednesday.

Playing with heavy hearts, Arencibia hit a two-run homer and Romero threw seven quality innings to lead Toronto to a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay at Rogers Centre.

"I shed a few tears after that home run. ... Today's game was for him, and I'm glad we were able to come out on top," Arencibia said.

Romero and Arecibia met Ryley before a game at Rogers Centre in early April. They'd learned about Ryley through the Blue Jays' community relations department and were more than willing to do whatever they could to help.

The three threw the ball around and used Arencibia's bat to take some practice swings. The encounter was short, but it will always resonate with the two Blue Jays.

"It was cool for me to interact with somebody like that," said Arencibia, who held a picture of himself with Ryley after the game. "I remember coming inside and talking to Ricky and saying, 'Hey, that's crazy. That kid doesn't have much longer to live, and we're here playing this game.'

"It just tells you how blessed we are. If a guy like that can be happy, what does an 0-for-4 [day] really matter?"

It was Romero who set the tone for the Blue Jays early. The club's No. 1 starter faced the minimum during the first 4 1/3 innings, striking out three over that span, his lone blemish a single to left by B.J. Upton.

That streak came to an end in the fifth, when Upton connected on his seventh home run of the season. It came on a 1-0 pitch and tied the score at 1. It was the only run Romero would surrender.

"His fastball was acting like a slider today," Rays designated hitter Johnny Damon said. "There were some pitches that I couldn't believe I took. They went out of the zone so quick.

"He was tough. He was on. Especially on a turf field like this, you hope to at least get a few balls to squeak through the infield, but he was just that good."

Romero was taken out of the game following the seventh, having allowed the one run on three hits and striking out six.

Romero has now given up just one earned run over his past 15 2/3 innings since pitching in a lopsided loss to the Tigers on May 7.

Romero wrote the initials "RJM" into the dirt at the back of the mound before the game and often found himself looking at them for motivation.

"[I looked] every time I thought I needed to calm down, especially that seventh inning," Romero said. "I'm not going to lie. I was feeling a little fatigued, and I told myself, 'Ryley, if you're out there, man, give me a little strength right here and just help me get through this inning.'

"I get the chills thinking about it. He was definitely out here with us, and it's ironic that J.P. hit the game-winning home run."

In the seventh, with a man on first base and one out, Arencibia took a 1-0 pitch from right-hander Wade Davis and sent it over the wall in center field.

Arencibia kept the game ball and had teammates sign it. He plans to send it to the Martin family.

"I hit that home run, and it gave us a lead, and in my head I said, 'That's it, we're going to seal this deal,'" Arencibia said.

"I came inside the clubhouse and I took a look at his picture. In the grand scheme of things, that home run is that home run, but life is precious, and it puts stuff into perspective."

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