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Snell, Rays stymie Blue Jays in wild-card opener

Blake Snell took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and Manuel Margot homered as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-1 Tuesday in Game 1 of an American League wild-card series in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The top-seeded Rays took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three set.

Tampa Bay scored a run on a fourth-inning wild pitch and got a two-run homer from Margot -- who hit only one in the regular season -- in the seventh to extend the advantage to 3-0.

Snell (1-0), the 2018 Cy Young Award winner, finished with 5 2/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit ball and tied the team's postseason record with nine strikeouts. Alejandro Kirk broke up the no-hit bid with a leadoff single in the sixth, and Snell exited after retiring the next two batters. He walked two.

Relievers Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks allowed just one run the rest of the way. Fairbanks pitched a scoreless ninth to earn the save.

Toronto went with No. 2 starter Matt Shoemaker in a bullpen game, and the right-hander delivered three shutout innings, holding the Rays to two hits with two strikeouts and no walks.

Both pitchers were just short of flawless early, but when lefty Robbie Ray (0-1) relieved Shoemaker in the fourth, Tampa Bay broke up the pitchers' duel.

Reserve outfielder Randy Arozarena, a surprise contributor with seven homers in September, lashed a triple to right that gave the home side its first scoring chance.

Ray fanned Nate Lowe looking, but the pitcher's fourth ball on a walk to Willy Adames bounced far enough past catcher Danny Jansen for a wild pitch and a 1-0 lead.

Snell put away 11 consecutive Blue Jays at one stretch through the first five hitless innings. He issued a pair of walks and faced one batter over the minimum after getting a double-play grounder from Jonathan Villar to end the fifth.

After Snell left in the sixth with a Kirk at first base, Castillo got Bo Bichette to end the frame on a hard grounder to second.

With one out in the seventh, Castillo hit Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with a pitch and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled, giving the Blue Jays their first runner at second base. Anderson entered and induced an infield fly from Teoscar Hernandez and a liner from pinch hitter Joe Panik that shortstop Adames caught with a dive.

In the bottom of the seventh, Joey Wendle drew a one-out walk from A.J. Cole before Margot went deep to left field.

After Bichette's sacrifice fly in the eighth cut the deficit to 3-1, Toronto brought up the tying run in the ninth when Gurriel hit a one-out double. Fairbanks closed it out by striking out Hernandez, and after a wild pitch moved the runner to third, getting Panik to pop out.

--Field Level Media

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