Blue Jays 7, Devil Rays 4

Preview | Box Score | Recap

TORONTO (AP)—Lou Piniella could see Tampa Bay’s slump coming.

“We need to score more runs. I said that about three weeks before we even cooled off,” the Devil Rays manager said. “I was telling you people. Everybody was looking at me like I was Bozo the Clown.”

Frank Menechino had three hits, including a solo homer, and the Toronto Blue Jays scored six unearned runs in the third inning of a 7-4 victory over the Devil Rays on Friday night.

Tampa Bay has lost four straight and 13 of 18 since moving a season-high two games over .500 on July 3. The team has scored four runs or less in 14 of 18 games.

After the Devil Rays’ 12-game winning streak ended last month, Piniella urged ownership to add more players. The Devil Rays have a payroll of $23 million—the lowest in the majors.

“We’re not in the National League,” said Piniella, who would like to acquire a hitter for the middle of the lineup.

Reed Johnson also had three hits, and Miguel Batista pitched six strong innings for the Blue Jays, who ended a three-game losing streak.

Batista (9-6) allowed three runs on six hits to win for the seventh time in his last eight decisions at SkyDome. He struck out four and walked two.

Rookie Jason Frasor got four outs for his 11th save in 12 chances.

“We haven’t been scoring many runs for most of our pitchers,” Johnson said. “Dropping a six-spot in one inning is huge for our confidence.”

The Blue Jays trailed 2-1 before scoring a season-high six runs in the third.

After Menechino led off with a single, Johnson put down a bunt that Aubrey Huff fielded, but the third baseman’s throw to first sailed into foul territory for an error, allowing Menechino to score and Johnson to reach third.

Vernon Wells followed with a grounder to Huff, who bobbled the ball for another error. Johnson scored on Carlos Delgado’s run-scoring double play. Eric Hinske hit an RBI single, Josh Phelps a two-run double and Chris Gomez an RBI single to give Toronto a 7-2 lead.

“We took advantage of that one inning,” Toronto manager Carlos Tosca said. “We’ve had a tough time doing that.”

Huff and Rocco Baldelli homered for the Devil Rays.

Tampa Bay starter Mark Hendrickson (7-8) gave up seven runs—one earned— on 11 hits in seven innings.

Baldelli hit a two-run homer in the first, but Menechino led off the bottom half with a homer.

Huff’s homer in the eighth cut Toronto’s lead to 7-4.


Delgado went 0-for-4, and is in a 6-for-31 slump that’s dropped his average to .205. … Tampa Bay OF Carl Crawford went 0-for-5, snapping a 13-game hitting streak. … The Devil Rays have lost seven straight road games. … Tampa Bay skipped batting practice. “If you can’t hit in July, I don’t think an extra day of batting practice is going to help,” Piniella said. … Blue Jays radio announcer Tom Cheek was back in the broadcast booth—calling his first game since undergoing surgery last month to remove a brain tumor. Cheek called the fifth and sixth innings.

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