Devil Rays 5, Blue Jays 3
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are becoming tougher to beat at home.
Tampa Bay got off to a good start on its season-high 13-game homestand by winning five of six, including two of three against the Blue Jays.
“We wanted to get started off on the right track, and five out of six ain’t bad,” Huff said.
The Devil Rays are 30-21, including 24-11 since May 20, at Tropicana Field.
Brazelton (4-3) struck out four and walked four, and has given up just three runs overall in 12 2-3 innings in winning consecutive starts. Danys Baez pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save in 24 opportunities.
“Brazelton gave us a real nice effort,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “He’s an improved pitcher. His demeanor on the mound tells a lot. He’s got a confident tone about him. He expects to go out there and compete and give his team a chance to win. He’s going about his business the right way.”
Three of Brazelton’s strikeouts came against Toronto slugger Carlos Delgado, who struck out four times in a game for the first time since May 11, 2002, at Oakland.
“I just got lucky,” Brazelton said.
Rookie Alexis Rios hit his first major league homer and drove in three runs for the Blue Jays. He has a hit in 20 of his last 23 games.
“He just keeps improving and improving,” Toronto manager Carlos Tosca said.
The Devil Rays took a 2-0 lead in the third when Carl Crawford hit his major league-leading 17th triple and scored on Huff’s two-run homer off Sean Douglass (0-1). It was the team-leading 19th homer for Huff, who has 18 RBIs in his past 17 games.
Only 11 players—including Garry Templeton twice—have had 17 or more triples in a season over the past 50 years.
Brazelton retired 10 in a row after allowing a leadoff double to Chris Gomez in the third. The streak ended when Rios homered to left in the sixth to get the Blue Jays within 2-1. Brazelton has given up just three homers in 62 1-3 innings this season, but has allowed a homer in two straight starts.
“I was kind of looking for that pitch,” Rios said. “They were coming in and in and in. I guess I guessed right.”
Brazelton went 1-6 with a 6.89 ERA in 10 starts last season with Tampa Bay. He was optioned to Class-A Bakersfield in June of 2003.
“I think last year you didn’t see Dewon Brazelton. You saw what somebody made Dewon Brazelton as far as my mechanics and whatever,” Brazelton said. “That wasn’t me. That was what somebody was telling me to do. I didn’t do well and all of a sudden I got thrown under the bus.”
“They let me go back to Single-A and let me get started the way I was when they drafted me. And you’re starting to see the results of that.”
Jose Cruz Jr. had an RBI single during a two-run sixth that put that the Devil Rays up 4-1. Cruz has six RBIs in 25 games since July 4.
Tino Martinez extended Tampa Bay’s lead to 5-1 with a run-scoring single in the seventh.
Rios cut the Blue Jays’ deficit to 5-3 with a two-run single off Jesus Colome in the eighth.
Douglass gave up four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings, and struck out five and walked one.
Tampa Bay called up highly touted shortstop B.J. Upton, the Devil Rays’ top pick in the 2002 draft, and infielder Damian Rolls from Triple-A Durham. Infielder Jorge Cantu and outfielder Joey Gathright were optioned to the Bulls. … Delgado has struck out six straight times after homering in his first two at-bats off Tampa Bay starter RHP Jorge Sosa on Saturday. The two shots extended Delgado’s home run streak against Sosa to five consecutive at-bats. … Huff has four homers in his last nine games. … Toronto SS Orlando Hudson doubled in the eighth to snap an 0-for-13 slide.