Devil Rays use Long Ball to Clip Jays 4-3

Devil Rays use Long Ball to Clip Jays 4-3

ST. PETERSBURG, FL. – Pete Walker wishes he had two pitches back – those to Aubrey Huff and Jonny Gomes who both hit home runs providing all the run support for the D-Rays Monday night as Tampa Bay wins game one of a three-game series against the Blue Jays 4-3.

The Toronto Blue Jays were supposed to be happy to see the Tampa Bay Devil Rays Monday night. The bottom dwelling Rays had a dismal 26-50 record entering the contest, and the Jays were expected to make a push in an attempt to gain some ground in the American League East.

Toronto would send Pete Walker to the mound for his second start of the season after being placed into the rotation. He would have to endure some stingy strike zone management by home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor though, and it would prove costly in the third inning.

After collecting two quick outs, Pete Walker was on his way to completing his third inning of work when he began to miss with pitches that appeared to catch the corners of the plate, resulting in walks to both Carl Crawford and Julio Lugo. Manager John Gibbons could be heard chirping from the third base dugout and on the next pitch, Aubrey Huff would drive one out of the park to deep right-center field, a three run shot, giving his team a 3-0 lead. Gibbons, was then ejected from the game and a heated argument ensued as he came out to stand up for his pitcher. Bench coach Ernie Whitt would take over after that.

Toronto would jump on the board against Hideo Nomo in the fourth, stringing together consecutive singles to lead off the frame by Vernon Wells and Shea Hillenbrand. An out later, Eric Hinske would walk to load the bases before Orlando Hudson would hit a two-run single into right field, cutting the deficit to 3-2.

Walker would find himself in trouble again with two outs in the bottom half of the fourth, when Julio Lugo would sky a deep drive to left-center and out, a solo-shot and his sixth of the year, giving the D-Rays a 4-2 lead.

Walker would leave the game after six innings of four-run ball on seven hits, giving way to Scott Schoeneweis who would come on to pitch a scoreless one and one-third innings.

The Blue Jays would threaten in the eighth against Dewon Brazelton, a man they faced on opening day. Wells would lead things off with a walk, followed by a Hillenbrand double, putting men on the corners. Aaron Hill would then ground a hard shot to third in which the Devil Rays had Wells caught up in between third and home, erasing the lead runner. Danys Baez would come in after the play and would be greeted by a hot-shot up the middle by Alex Rios, scoring Hillenbrand from second. The Wells miscue ended up costing the Jays big time, as that would be all they'd get, losing 4-3.

Hideo Nomo picks up the win after pitching seven innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, improving to (5-6). Baez would also pitch a flawless ninth to collect his thirteenth save of the year. Pete Walker would be hit with the loss, dropping his record to (3-1).

The Jays will look to even the series at one on Tuesday when they send ace Roy Halladay (11-4) to the hill to take on Tampa left-hander Scott Kazmir (3-5).

The game on Tuesday can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet starting at 7pm EST with radio coverage on The FAN 590AM.

InsideTheDome's Game Notes: Aaron Hill, who had been in a mini 0-for-10 slump, broke out of it during the sixth inning with a line drive single to center…Manager John Gibbons who was ejected arguing balls and strikes in the third inning on Monday's game, was the fourth time he's been thrown out this year.

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