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Toronto at Tampa Bay

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Toronto020000120592
Tampa Bay «00100016x8111

Cantu blast helps Devil Rays salvage series finale

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Lou Piniella could smile for a change.

After watching his team squander opportunity after opportunity through most of a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Tampa Bay manager savored a six-run, eighth inning that carried the Devil Rays to an 8-5 victory Wednesday.

"That's a thing of beauty for us," Piniella said. "It'll sure make our off day (Thursday) a little better."

Jorge Cantu capped the rally with a three-run homer off Jason Speier. That came after the Devil Rays overcame a 5-2 deficit on Aubrey Huff's two-run double off Scott Schoeneweis (0-1) and Chris Singleton's RBI single off Speier.

The Blue Jays' bullpen wasted a strong performance by starter Josh Towers, who left with a 3-1 lead after allowing four hits, striking out six and walking none in six innings. Danys Baez (1-0) pitched 1 2-3 innings for the win.

I'm very, very happy we won two out of three. But it's 5-2 in the eighth, and I was thinking sweep," Toronto catcher Gregg Zaun said. "I'm not leaving the clubhouse happy today."

Tampa Bay went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position while losing the first two games of the series, and was 1-for-5 Wednesday before busting loose against Schoeneweis, who was pitching for the third straight day.

The Devil Rays scored once in the seventh off Jason Frasor when Toby Hall grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. Orlando Hudson's RBI triple gave Toronto a 4-2 lead in the eighth, and Eric Hinske's run-scoring single made it 5-2.

Cantu homered for the second straight game, and Carl Crawford had an inside-the-park homer off Towers for the Devil Rays, who rely more on speed than power to generate offense. Crawford led off the winning rally with a triple that seemed to energize his teammates.

"That's the kind of team we have," Piniella said. "But there's no substitute for a three-run homer. You saw that today."

Tampa Bay avoided its first 0-3 start with a roster that includes 16 players who were not here on opening day last year. Another fresh face could be on the way after backup catcher Charles Johnson requested a leave of absence.

Johnson, a former All-Star who signed a one-year contract Monday, was granted permission to leave the team. If he does not return Friday, he will be placed on a restricted list without pay.

"I am going to leave the club for personal reasons," Johnson said in a statement released by the team. "I'm going to return home to Miami and hopefully join the club as soon as possible."

Towers limited the Devil Rays to three singles and Crawford's solo homer through six innings.

Alex Rios drove in Toronto's first two runs with a second-inning triple off left-hander Mark Hendrickson. The Tampa Bay starter settled down and kept his team in it by retiring 11 in a row before Hudson opened the sixth inning with the Blue Jays' fifth hit.

The Devil Rays loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh on a walk and two singles. After getting Hall to hit into a double play, Frasor escaped further damage by striking out Alex Gonzalez.

Schoeneweis wasn't as fortunate. The lefty faced four left-handed batters and didn't get any out.

"It is a lot to ask a guy coming out of spring training to pitch three days in a row," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He said he's fine. I made the call."

Notes

  • Tampa Bay's Julio Lugo was ejected in the fourth inning for arguing with plate umpire Phil Cuzzi about a called third strike.
  • Crawford's inside-the-park homer was the first of his career and sixth in team history. Rey Sanchez was the last Devil Ray to have one, last June 11 against Colorado at Tropicana Field.
  • The Blue Jays were trying to start a season 3-0 for the first time since 1996.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

J. Cantu
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
Toronto

A. Rios
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Toronto Blue Jays
Reed Johnson, LF4120002 .300
   a- Gabe Gross, PH1000012 .000
Orlando Hudson, 2B5121003 .333
Vernon Wells, CF4000012 .250
Corey Koskie, 3B4011010 .091
Shea Hillenbrand, 1B4110001 .333
Frank Menechino, DH2110100 .250
   b- Eric Hinske, PH-DH1000001 .125
Alex Rios, RF4122000 .286
Gregg Zaun, C3000100 .182
Russ Adams, SS2000000 .200
   c- John McDonald, PH-SS1000001 .600
   d- Frank Catalanotto, PH0000100 .333
Totals355943312 
a-struck out for Johnson in the 9th
b-flied out for Menechino in the 8th
c-flied out for R. Adams in the 7th
d-walked for McDonald in the 9th
Batting
3B - Orlando Hudson (1, Harper), Alex Rios (1, Hendrickson)
RBI - Orlando Hudson (3), Corey Koskie (1), Alex Rios 2 (3)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Koskie-Hudson-Hillenbrand, Koskie-Hudson-Hillenbrand, McDonald-Hudson-Hillenbrand
E - Orlando Hudson (2, misplayed grounder), Corey Koskie (1, wild throw)
Toronto Blue Jays
Josh Towers 6411061 1.50
Jason Frasor (H,1) 1211110 9.00
Scott Schoeneweis (L,0-1)0344100 27.00
Justin Speier (BS,1) 1222011 10.80
Pitches-Strikes - Josh Towers 86-63, Jason Frasor 17-9, Scott Schoeneweis 12-5, Justin Speier 22-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Towers 8-4, Jason Frasor 1-0
Batters Faced - Josh Towers 22, Jason Frasor 5, Scott Schoeneweis 4, Justin Speier 5
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Carl Crawford, LF4221020 .250
Joey Gathright, CF4110000 .250
Aubrey Huff, RF4132000 .250
Travis Lee, 1B3100101 .273
Julio Lugo, SS2000012 .200
    Nick Green, 3B1100102 .000
Chris Singleton, DH4121020 .300
Jorge Cantu, 2B4133010 .455
Toby Hall, C4000001 .200
Alex Gonzalez, 3B-SS4000023 .167
Totals348117289 
Batting
2B - Aubrey Huff (1, Schoeneweis)
3B - Carl Crawford (1, Schoeneweis)
HR - Carl Crawford (1, Towers), Jorge Cantu (2, Speier)
RBI - Carl Crawford (3), Aubrey Huff 2 (2), Chris Singleton (1), Jorge Cantu 3 (5)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Hendrickson-Lugo-Lee, Green-Cantu-Lee
E - Nick Green (1, wild throw)
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Mark Hendrickson 6.2632110 2.70
Travis Harper 0.2222010 9.00
Trever Miller0100000 0.00
Danys Baez (W,1-0) 1.2000210 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Mark Hendrickson 90-61, Travis Harper 14-10, Trever Miller 2-1, Danys Baez 24-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mark Hendrickson 10-8, Danys Baez 1-3
Batters Faced - Mark Hendrickson 26, Travis Harper 4, Trever Miller 1, Danys Baez 7
Game Information
Attendance - 8764
Game Time - 2:42
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Phil Cuzzi, First Base - Bob Davidson, Second Base - Ed Rapuano, Third Base - C.B. Bucknor