ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Josh Towers came up with a strong outing with his job on-the-line.
"I got a feeling of finally contributing and it feels good," Towers said.
Towers (1-7) gave up three runs and five hits in eight plus innings for his first win since a 10-1 complete game victory Sept. 30 against Kansas City. The right-hander's spot in the rotation was in jeopardy after losing his first seven starts this season. Entering Sunday, Towers had allowed 54 hits -- including nine homers -- and 12 walks in 30 1-3 innings.
"It's embarassing ... you've lost seven straight games for your team," Towers said. "But this one day doesn't really change anything. I've still got to go out there in five days and prove that I can do it."
Towers, who went 13-12 last season and signed a $5.2 million, two-year contract in the offseason, had allowed only three hits through the first eight innings before Joey Gathright led off the ninth with a single and Julio Lugo followed with his first homer of the season to make it 8-3.
"He looked like he looked last year," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It was just a matter of time. He really stepped it up, and that should give him some confidence. He had everything going. We gave him some runs, which makes it easier, but he was pitching today."
Towers threw just 68 pitches through eight innings. He finished with 76.
"What are you going to do?" Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Their guy pitched well, obviously. I thought once Towers got through the first couple innings, he gained some confidence. Early on I could see he wasn't quite sure of himself. His pitch quality became better, velocity came up and he began to relax, which is what they were hoping he would do."
B.J. Ryan then got the final three outs for Toronto, which has won six of eight.
Tampa Bay starter Casey Fossum (1-2) gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings. The Devil Rays, who have lost 17 of 25, have scored five runs or less in 14 straight games.
"I don't think this team should be pressing about hitting," Lugo said. "We're hitting the ball, we're just not clicking right now. We're not getting the hits at the right time. Every guy in this lineup has a history of hitting. Things are going to be fine."
Towers retired his first 10 batters before Carl Crawford grounded a single to right with one out in the fourth.
Crawford went to third when Towers was charged with an error for an errant pick off throw to first. Towers hit Jonny Gomes with a pitch and Aubrey Huff followed with a sacrifice fly that got the Devil Rays within 2-1.
Alex Rios put Toronto ahead 1-0 on a first-inning homer. Bengie Molina made it 2-0 on an RBI single in the fourth.
Vernon Wells had an RBI infield single during a two-run fifth that gave the Blue Jays a 4-1 advantage. He hit a run-scoring double during a three-run ninth that extended the Toronto lead to 8-1.
Molina had a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
|A more efficient Josh Towers throws only 76 pitches in eight strong innings. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Reed Johnson, LF||5||0||1||0||0||0||5||.348|
|Alex Rios, RF||5||2||2||1||0||1||3||.367|
|Vernon Wells, CF||5||2||3||2||0||0||0||.358|
|Troy Glaus, 3B||5||1||1||0||0||0||3||.265|
|Shea Hillenbrand, 1B||5||1||3||1||0||0||0||.346|
|Bengie Molina, C||4||0||1||2||0||0||1||.274|
|Lyle Overbay, DH||4||0||2||1||1||0||1||.295|
|Aaron Hill, 2B||2||1||1||0||2||0||0||.192|
|John McDonald, SS||5||1||1||0||0||1||7||.224|
|2B - Vernon Wells (8, Orvella), Shea Hillenbrand 2 (8, Harper, Orvella), Lyle Overbay (5, Orvella)|
|3B - Alex Rios (2, Orvella)|
|HR - Alex Rios (8, Fossum)|
|SF - Bengie Molina (1)|
|RBI - Alex Rios (27), Vernon Wells 2 (32), Shea Hillenbrand (19), Bengie Molina 2 (12), Lyle Overbay (23)|
|2-OUT RBI - Vernon Wells (8), Lyle Overbay (9)|
|SB - Vernon Wells (4, 2nd base off Fossum/Hall)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|DP - McDonald-Hill-Hillenbrand|
|E - Josh Towers (1, throwing error)|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Josh Towers (W,1-7)||8||5||3||2||0||2||1||8.45|
|HBP - Gomes (by Josh Towers)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Josh Towers 76-55, B.J. Ryan 13-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Towers 10-10, B.J. Ryan 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Josh Towers 28, B.J. Ryan 4|
|Tampa Bay Devil Rays|
|Julio Lugo, SS||4||1||1||2||0||0||1||.229|
|Carl Crawford, LF||4||1||1||0||0||1||0||.261|
|Jonny Gomes, DH||2||0||0||0||1||1||0||.288|
|Aubrey Huff, 3B||3||0||0||1||0||0||1||.132|
|Ty Wigginton, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||0||2||.242|
|Greg Norton, 1B||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||.231|
|Toby Hall, C||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.288|
|Damon Hollins, RF||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||.248|
|Joey Gathright, CF||3||1||1||0||0||1||1||.192|
|HR - Julio Lugo (1, Towers)|
|SF - Aubrey Huff (1)|
|RBI - Julio Lugo 2 (3), Aubrey Huff (4)|
|CS - Jonny Gomes (4, 2nd base by Towers/Molina)|
|Team LOB - 2|
|Outfield Assists - Carl Crawford 1|
|E - Greg Norton (1, missed catch)|
|Tampa Bay Devil Rays|
|Casey Fossum (L,1-2)||6||9||4||3||1||1||1||5.24|
|IBB - Overbay by Travis Harper|
|HBP - Hill (by Chad Orvella)|
|WP - Casey Fossum (2), Chad Orvella (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Casey Fossum 84-52, Travis Harper 30-15, Chad Orvella 32-19|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Casey Fossum 9-7, Travis Harper 2-3, Chad Orvella 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Casey Fossum 27, Travis Harper 10, Chad Orvella 8|
|Attendance - 12224|
|Game Time - 2:17|
|Temperature - 72|
|Umpires - Home - Marty Foster, First Base - Field Culbreth, Second Base - Bill Welke, Third Base - Tim McClelland|