ST. PETERSBURG -- Robinson Chirinos got it done -- twice -- on Thursday afternoon as Tampa Bay took a 7-6 walk-off win over Toronto in 12 innings at Tropicana Field with 28,491 watching.
By winning, the Rays moved to 58-52 on the season while claiming their second consecutive series win after going 0-5-1 in their previous six. The victory marked the first time in Tampa Bay history that the team came back from two deficits in extra innings. In addition, it was the first time the Rays have scored in three different innings during an extra-inning game.
Chirinos entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the 11th and delivered a two-out RBI single off Shawn Camp to tie the game at 6 and buy another inning for the Rays. The rookie backstop then repeated his earlier heroics when he singled through the left side of the infield with two outs and the bases loaded in the 12th to score B.J. Upton with the winning run.
"It's great, we win the game, we battle the whole game and we finally win it today," Chirinos said.
Upton tripled to right with one out in the Rays' half of the 12th on a ball few players could have stretched into three.
"That was outstanding," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It was there, he saw it was there. I think he was thinking that from the very beginning, and you could really see all of his speed at that point.
"When he's running like that I don't even know who I'd bet on between he and Desmond [Jennings]. Really close. But I think it was in his mind's eye at the moment he hit the ball -- triple -- and that's a great thing that he wasn't just thinking double. It's a huge difference in that game."
Toronto then intentionally walked Casey Kotchman and Matt Joyce to load the bases for Elliot Johnson. Facing a drawn-in Toronto infield, Johnson struck out swinging to bring Chirinos up to plate the winning run.
"What a great back and forth game," said Brandon Gomes, who recorded his first Major League win with a scoreless inning of relief in the top of the 12th. "Our hitters just battled their tails off just to keep us right where we were."
Tampa Bay never gave up, despite trailing for much of the game.
Toronto scored two runs off Wade Davis in the first inning to take the lead. But Evan Longoria's three-run homer in the fifth off Brett Cecil gave the Rays a 3-2 advantage. And the way Davis was pitching after the first, the Rays appeared headed for the barn with a win tucked in their belts.
Jose Bautista changed all of that when he connected off Davis with two out in the eighth for his 33rd home run, a solo shot that tied the score at 3.
The game then went into extra innings, during which a game seemingly with a different life began.
Jake McGee was brought into the contest to face Colby Rasmus with two outs in the 10th and surrendered a double to left-center field that allowed Yunel Escobar to score from first base to give the Blue Jays a 4-3 lead. Desmond Jennings answered for the Rays by homering off Jon Rauch to lead off the bottom half of the inning. Jennings' third long ball tied the score at 4.
Edwin Encarnacion singled off Juan Cruz to open the Toronto 11th. One out later, Aaron Hill singled before Travis Snider hit into a force play to leave runners at the corners with two outs. That's when Jose Molina hit a drive to deep center field that allowed both runners to score. Molina chugged into third with a triple.
Trailing 6-4, Upton opened the Rays' 11th with a double to center field. Kotchman followed with a single to put runners on the corners for Joyce.
Joyce hit a ball to the hole between first and second that Hill made a diving stab of before throwing to first to get Joyce as Upton scored. One out later, Chirinos laced the first of his two clutch singles to tie the game at 6.
Gomes' work in the top of the 12th included a strikeout of Bautista swinging for one of the three outs.
Tampa Bay used 20 different players for just the fourth time in club history. Many of those players were the kids like Chirinos, Jennings, McGee and Gomes, with each of them gaining more experience while getting tested under fire.
"Desmond and Chirinos, they've all done so great down in [Triple-A] Durham," Gomes said. "It's great to see them carry it here. We're just a bunch of guys pulling for each other. So it's a lot of fun."
In defeat, Toronto dropped to 2 1/2 games behind third-place Tampa Bay in the American League East standings.
"I think any time you lose a game late, those are tough to take," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "You work all day to get yourself into a position, you present yourself the position and it is not converted. Today we put ourselves back in the position to take the lead multiple times.
"You have to give them credit -- they continued to battle their way out of a tight situation and set themselves up in a bases-loaded type situation and Camp gets a big strikeout of Johnson, and then a ground ball through the infield is the difference."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.