Devil Rays 6, Blue Jays 2
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Rey Sanchez makes the most out of his rare home runs.
Sanchez’s second homer of the season—a three-run shot—came during a five-run, fourth inning that gave the Devil Rays a 5-0 lead. It was Sanchez’s 15th career homer in his 4,684th at-bat, and his first into the stands since April 30, 2002, at Boston.
“I’m going to tell you, don’t expect anymore,” Sanchez said jokingly. “That was it.”
He went 745 at-bats without a homer before hitting an inside-the-park, walk-off home run June 11 in an 8-7, 10-inning win over Colorado.
“We said coming into the season that we needed contributions from everywhere,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “I know the three-run homer from Sanchez was a huge one. That’s what we need, everybody contributes some. We’ve been doing that.”
Brazelton (2-0) gave up five hits, two walks and struck out two in his first start since taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his previous start, a 2-0 win over Florida last Friday.
“I think it was important, not because of what I did last week, to come out there and be consistent,” Brazelton said.
Jose Cruz Jr. also homered for the Devil Rays (38-37), who went back over the .500 mark. Tampa Bay became the first major league team last Saturday to climb above .500 at any point in the season after being 18 games below .500.
“We’re having fun,” Sanchez said. “Everybody is doing the job. That’s why we’re playing so well.”
This the latest in a season Tampa Bay has been above .500. The Devil Rays are a major league-best 28-9 since May 20.
“This a great run,” Cruz said. “It’s just a whole team effort.”
Eric Hinske ruined the shutout bid with a two-run double with two outs in the ninth off Trever Miller, who replaced Lance Carter. Carter was forced to leave with a bruised left knee after taking Reed Johnson’s hard liner off his leg.
Precautionary X-rays on Carter were negative. He is day to day.
“We don’t think it’s anything serious,” Piniella said. “He got hit pretty good, though.”
The Devil Rays scored five times against Josh Towers (2-3) in the fourth. Robert Fick had a run-scoring groundout and Toby Hall hit an RBI single before Sanchez made it 5-0 with his three-run shot to center.
“That pitch was so bad … he couldn’t help but hit that ball over the fence,” Towers said of his hanging slider to Sanchez. “It was a very, very bad pitch.”
Cruz gave the Devil Rays a 6-0 lead with a solo homer off Towers in the fifth. It was just his second hit—both homers—in 21 at-bats.
The Blue Jays (34-44) had runners on second and third with one out in the fifth, but failed to score. Brazelton retired Johnson on foul popup and then struck out Hinske.
“The guys are playing hard,” Toronto manager Carlos Tosca said. “That’s all you can ask of them. We’re banged up and we’re not at full force, but we’re getting the effort. We’ve just got to grind and hope you don’t get too far behind the .500 mark.”
Towers allowed six runs and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings. He gave up two runsand 11 hits over 14 innings in his previous two starts.
Blue Jays 1B Carlos Delgado (ribs) went 0-for-5 in a rehabilitation start for Class A Dunedin on Wednesday. Tosca said Delgado will take batting practice with the Blue Jays on Thursday and might be ready to play when Toronto opens a series against Montreal Friday in Puerto Rico. “Hopefully, maybe we can do something on Friday,” Tosca said. “He must have felt fine if he had all five at-bats.” Delgado has been sidelined since May 30. … Brazelton hasn’t allowed a homer in 26 1-3 innings this season. … The Blue Jays were looking to win consecutive road games for just the third time this year. …Cruz is 8-for-12 with three homers against Towers.