Not a bad way to begin the final leg of a 10-game road trip.
Garza and Toronto's Roy Halladay locked horns over nine innings at Rogers Centre before the game went into extra innings. Evan Longoria's two-run double off Scott Downs in the 10th gave the Rays a 4-2 win and allowed Garza to come away victorious.
With rumors flying that he'll be traded before his next outing, Halladay went into the game facing the prospect that he could be making his final start in a Blue Jays uniform. So emotions were riding high throughout the evening, which saw Halladay and Garza both on top of their games.
"[Garza] matched Doc tonight pitch for pitch," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It was kind of a classic matchup. You don't see that very often anymore -- both guys going nine innings and pitching out of tough situations. And they still had their best stuff in the ninth inning."
The win was the Rays' first in three games, moving Tampa Bay to 5-3 on its current road trip. And the suspense of when the Rays might get a baserunner quickly came to a close Friday night.
After Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game against them Thursday, the Rays' stretch of consecutive at-bats without having a runner reach base reached 29 before Carl Crawford singled up the middle with one out in the first. Crawford was responsible for the previous hit as well, that one coming with two outs in the ninth inning of Wednesday night's loss to the White Sox.
Halladay surrendered just two runs on a pair of sacrifice flies by Crawford and Longoria in the third. The Blue Jays answered in the bottom half of the frame via Marco Scutaro's RBI single and Aaron Hill's RBI double. That would be it for Toronto's offense.
At one point, Halladay retired 16 consecutive hitters before Jason Bartlett broke the spell with an eighth-inning double. The Jays right-hander pitched through the ninth inning, leaving with the score tied at 2 and the game headed into extra innings.
"You hate to come out of games like that," Halladay said. "I really didn't know where I was at pitch-wise. That was the big thing. If I get a chance to go back out, can I? I didn't realize I was up that high in pitches, so I think at that point, you're still kind of in game mode. You're not done."
Garza looked fresh in the ninth, hitting 96 mph at one point. He left after nine, with 116 pitches under his belt.
"He smells it deep," Maddon said. "That's why I don't mind him going more pitches. He's one of those anomaly guys who gets stronger as he goes deeper. And he smells it, and he likes it. So I'm comfortable with him going from 110 to 120 [pitches]."
When asked if Friday night's outing was his best of the season, Garza smiled.
"Yeah, I didn't walk anybody," he said. "It's up there. I just stuck with [pitching coach Jim] Hickey's plan, and that was pitch to contact tonight. When I got to 3-2, I just said, 'Beat me,' [and threw] fastballs.
"I was ready to go [in the 10th]. When they told me I was done, I was out there debating with Hickey, saying, 'Let me go 10.' But we got a closer for that, and he sure puts a stop down."
Longoria's bloop double with two outs in the 10th fell just in front of Toronto left fielder Joe Inglett. The ball ricocheted away from him, allowing B.J. Upton to score from second and Crawford to score all the way from first to put the Rays up, 4-2. J.P. Howell then shut down the Blue Jays in the bottom half of the inning to earn his 11th save of the season.
Halladay is 0-2 against the Rays this season. He received a no-decision Friday night, as the Jays fell to 0-3 in games he's started against Tampa Bay in 2009. Nevertheless, there was nothing but respect for Halladay in the Rays' clubhouse.
"He's, in my mind, one of the best, if not the best pitcher in the American League," Longoria said. "So whenever we have a chance to beat a guy like that, it's always good. Going into the game, you know it's going to be a close game. You know he's not going to give up a whole lot of runs, and he's going to be in there for probably three or four of your at-bats. I think throughout the course of the three games we've faced him, we've kept ourselves in the game. We've actually manufactured the runs when we had the chance."