ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Geoff Blum gave the Tampa Bay Devil
Rays a victory -- with 39 minutes to spare.
Blum made up for a big error by hitting a sacrifice fly in the
bottom of the ninth inning, and Tampa Bay beat the Toronto Blue
Jays 6-5 Saturday night.
With a 9:15 p.m. curfew imposed because of Hurricane Jeanne,
both teams came out swinging in a game that took just 2 hours, 20
minutes and ended at 8:36. Hoping to beat the storm, the Blue Jays
were scheduled to leave Florida on a charter flight immediately
after the loss."I was looking at the radar screen and it's coming quick,"
Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "The sooner we get out of here,
the better."Even though the Devil Rays play in a dome, Sunday's series
finale was canceled because of the hurricane, which was expected to
hit Florida's east coast late Saturday or early Sunday. The game
will not be made up."If this thing keeps heading west, it's going to be dangerous
out there," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "It's the right
decision."The curfew meant no inning could start after 9:15. And the game
appeared headed for extra innings -- and a possible tie -- after
Toronto rallied for two runs in the ninth."The game was proceeding so quickly," Piniella said. "We had
a two-hour game going into the ninth almost. Then things got
interesting. They usually do."Blum committed an error on Gabe Gross' two-out grounder to
third, allowing the tying run to score. The Blue Jays cut it to 5-4
earlier in the inning when Eric Hinske grounded into a double play.Midre Cummings opened the bottom of the ninth with a walk
against Miguel Batista (10-13) and went to third when the
right-hander was charged with a throwing error on Rocco Baldelli's
sacrifice bunt.After Julio Lugo grounded out, Blum hit his game-winning fly to
center."To come back and have the opportunity to win was probably a
blessing," Blum said.Batista's walk was his 96th this season, tying former Tampa Bay
pitcher Victor Zambrano for the AL lead. Zambrano was traded to the
New York Mets on July 30.Dewon Brazelton took a two-hitter into the eighth inning for
Tampa Bay and Cummings hit his first major league homer in four
years.Brazelton gave up three runs, three hits and two walks in
seven-plus innings. He departed after allowing a single and a walk
-- both runners later scored -- to start the eighth.Cummings' previous big league homer came on Aug. 18, 2000, with
Minnesota at Toronto. Blum also homered for Tampa Bay, which leads
Toronto by 2½ games for fourth place in the AL East. The Devil Rays
have finished last in all six years of their existence.Toronto got a home run from Eric Crozier.Aubrey Huff hit an RBI double and Cummings had a two-run homer
to put the Devil Rays up 3-0 in the first. Blum made it 4-0 on a
solo homer one inning later.Crozier pulled the Blue Jays to 4-1 with a third-inning homer.Tampa Bay went up 5-1 on Lugo's sacrifice fly in the fourth.Travis Harper replaced Brazelton in the eighth and allowed an
RBI double to Guillermo Quiroz and Russ Adams' run-scoring
grounder, cutting Toronto's deficit to 5-3.Danys Baez (4-3) entered with two outs in the eighth and got the
win after blowing just his third save in 32 opportunities. He was
looking to convert his 19th consecutive chance, which would have
tied Roberto Hernandez's team record set in 1999.Blue Jays starter Dave Bush gave up five runs and four hits in 3
2-3 innings."It wasn't a pretty game all the way around, no question,"
Jeanne is the fourth major hurricane to affect Florida this
year. "Unbelievable, isn't it?" Piniella said. "This state has
really been ravaged. A lot of people have suffered a lot of damage.
I hope this one is not too severe." ... The Devil Rays had two
games with Detroit postponed by Hurricane Frances earlier this
month. Those games are scheduled to be made up with a doubleheader
Thursday. ... Toronto is 26-50 on the road this season. It's the
most road defeats since the Blue Jays went 21-60 in 1979. ...
Brazelton was 0-3 in his previous five starts.