Toronto (64-56) at Tampa Bay (48-72)

Fair Currently: St. Petersburg, FL
Temp: 70° F
  • Game info: 7:15 pm EDT Thu Aug 17, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays finally broke through with some offense to snap a seven-game losing streak.

Starter Scott Kazmir only hopes they can do the same for him when he takes the hill against the Toronto Blue Jays in the finale of a three-game series on Thursday.

The Devil Rays beat Toronto 8-3 on Wednesday, scoring their most runs since their last victory, 7-6 over Boston on Aug. 6.

During the slide, Tampa Bay (48-72) totaled just 14 run, scoring three or fewer in six games.

“We finally got some runs,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Damon Hollins hit his career-high 14th homer Wednesday, a two-run shot that snapped a 1-for-21 slump, and Jonny Gomes and Jorge Cantu had RBI doubles as the Devil Rays scored four runs in the first.

“I think that kind of set the tone,” Hollins said.

Kazmir (10-8, 3.43 ERA) will be looking for the same kind of support. He’s been plagued by bad run support since his last victory on July 3 and also had a stint on the disabled list.

The 23-year-old left-hander is 0-3 with a 4.07 ERA in his last four starts, but the Devil Rays have scored just four runs in those outings.

Kazmir allowed three runs and four hits in five innings of a 5-2 loss to Oakland on Friday, his first start since being activated from the DL after suffering from rotator cuff inflammation.

“Everything felt good from the start,” Kazmir said. “I wasn’t overthrowing; my command wasn’t all there. I already know (the shoulder) is fine. I’m not going to worry about throwing tomorrow and seeing how it feels. I know it’s going to be good.”

Kazmir allowed 12 hits over 8 2-3 innings in a 5-2 win over Toronto (64-56) on April 9 to improve to 2-2 with a 3.21 ERA in seven career starts against the Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays’ loss was only their third in the last 10 games. To win the series, they’ll turn to A.J. Burnett (4-5, 4.46) on Thursday.

Burnett has started to resemble a pitcher worth the $55 million contract he signed in the off-season and will be looking for his third straight victory.

He beat the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 6, allowing three runs in six innings, then defeated Minnesota on Friday, allowing one run and six hits in seven innings while striking out a season-high 10 batters.

“Their guy was unbelievable,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Burnett.

He’s pitched well against the Devil Rays in his career, going 4-1 with a 3.56 ERA in eight starts, all with Florida. Three of his 15 complete games have come against Tampa Bay and he’s thrown two shutouts, including his last start on June 26, 2005.

Toronto traded relief pitcher Scott Schoeneweis to Cincinnati earlier Wednesday for a player to be named or cash, and reportedly dealt third baseman Eric Hinske to Boston after the game.

“I’ve been traded twice before,” said Hinske, the 2002 AL Rookie of the Year. “It’s a business. I understand it. I’m fine. Every time you get traded, it means somebody really wants you. It’s not a negative thing.”

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Starting Pitchers

A. Burnett Pit vs. S. Kazmir Hou
10-8 Record 10-8
3.98 ERA 3.24
118 K 163
39 BB 52
1.30 WHIP 1.27


Thursday, Aug 17