Blue Jays 8, Devil Rays 5

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TORONTO (AP)—The Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Devil Rays tried to be diplomatic after several run-ins on and off the field.

Not anymore.

Toronto’s starting pitcher was ejected for the second straight night Tuesday, and Carlos Delgado hit his 299th career homer as the Blue Jays beat the Devil Rays 8-5.

Josh Towers was ejected for throwing behind Aubrey Huff in the fifth inning. Roy Halladay was tossed for hitting Rocco Baldelli with a pitch Monday. Both teams said there were no ill feelings between the teams on Monday, but that’s no longer the case.

“There was no beef between our teams coming into this series,” Towers said. “Obviously, now there is because we cleared the benches.”

Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford tripled off Towers in the fifth before Julio Lugo hit a two-run shot, tying the game at 4. Towers then threw behind Huff on the next pitch, prompting plate umpire Larry Poncino to eject him. Huff hit his 32nd home run in his previous at-bat.

“I wanted to send a message,” Towers said.

Victor Zambrano hit Delgado with a pitch in the second and Chris Woodward with a pitch in the fourth.

Benches cleared in the ninth after Aquilino Lopez threw behind Crawford. Crawford had to be held back and a shoving match ensued between the teams.

Lopez, Crawford, and former Devil Rays pitcher Tanyon Sturtze were ejected.

Steve Palermo of the commissioner’s office warned umpires working Tampa Bay-Toronto games to watch for beanballs, leading to Halladay’s ejection. On June 6 last season, Huff was hit on the helmet by Toronto’s Luke Prokopec after hitting a home run in his previous at-bat.

“It stems from last year,” Palermo, a supervisor of major league umpires, said Tuesday. “Aubrey Huff got hit in the head last year. We take that seriously.”

Halladay’s ejection wasn’t the first trouble between the teams this month.

Tosca wrote a quote from Crawford on a clubhouse message board before a game on Sept. 10. After Tampa Bay’s win on Sept. 9 Crawford said it seemed that when the Blue Jays get behind “they kind of let down a little bit.”

Over the weekend the Blue Jays ran an advertisement that showed Halladay, Delgado and Vernon Wells under the words “A chance for Carl Crawford and the Devil Rays to see real All-Stars up close.”

In the fourth inning of Monday’s game, the Blue Jays posted Crawford’s quote on the JumboTron.

Delgado said Crawford is making enemies.

“The guy has a year in the big leagues and he’s already popping his mouth,” Delgado said.

Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella would like it to end.

“It’s getting ugly,” Piniella said. “Lets hope we can play baseball the next two nights.”

On Sunday the Devil Rays traded hit batsmen with the Yankees, and starter Jeremi Gonzalez chased Yankees catcher Jorge Posada down the first-base line after Posada objected to being pitched inside. Gonzalez hit Nick Johnson with a pitch earlier in the inning.

Delgado gave Toronto a 5-4 lead in fifth with his 37th home run, a solo shot off Zambrano (11-10).

Reed Johnson extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a double in the third, and his two-run shot off Brandon Backe in the fifth gave Toronto a 7-5 lead. He finished 3-for-4 with a career-high four RBIs.

Jason Kershner (3-3) pitched 3 1-3 innings for the win.

Huff went 4-for-4 for the Devil Rays, who need two wins in their remaining five games to avoid 100 losses for the third straight season.

Zambrano allowed five runs—four earned—on five hits in five innings.

Zambrano set a team record with his 20th hit batsmen. He denied throwing at Delgado.

“I don’t why Delgado felt I threw it on purpose,” Zambrano. “I have to pitch inside to him.”

Huff and Baldelli hit consecutive singles in the first before Travis Lee hit an RBI single.

Huff homered off Towers in the third.

Toronto’s Howie Clark hit an RBI single in the bottom half and the Blue Jays scored three runs in the fourth on Kevin Cash’s RBI single, Johnson’s sacrifice fly and Clark’s run-scoring single.

Crawford hit his triple in the fifth before scoring on Lugo’s two-run homer, which tied it at 4.

Damian Rolls’ RBI single cut Toronto’s lead to 7-5 in the eighth, butJohnson hit an RBI single in the bottom half.

Notes

Tosca said right-hander Pete Walker will start on Thursday. Tosca considered starting rookie RHP Vinnie Chulk, but he’s appeared in just two games since being called up on Sept. 2. … Crawford is in a 6-for-45 slump(.133).

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