ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Josh Towers came up with a strong
outing with his job on-the-line.
Towers won his first game of the season, snapping a seven-game
losing streak and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Devil
Rays 8-3 on Sunday."I got a feeling of finally contributing and it feels good,"
Towers said.Towers (1-7) gave up three runs and five hits in eight plus
innings for his first win since a 10-1 complete game victory Sept.
30 against Kansas City. The right-hander's spot in the rotation was
in jeopardy after losing his first seven starts this season.
Entering Sunday, Towers had allowed 54 hits -- including nine homers
-- and 12 walks in 30 1/3 innings."It's embarassing ... you've lost seven straight games for your
team," Towers said. "But this one day doesn't really change
anything. I've still got to go out there in five days and prove
that I can do it."Towers, who went 13-12 last season and signed a $5.2 million,
two-year contract in the offseason, had allowed only three hits
through the first eight innings before Joey Gathright led off the
ninth with a single and Julio Lugo followed with his first homer of
the season to make it 8-3."He looked like he looked last year," Blue Jays manager John
Gibbons said. "It was just a matter of time. He really stepped it
up, and that should give him some confidence. He had everything
going. We gave him some runs, which makes it easier, but he was
pitching today."Towers threw just 68 pitches through eight innings. He finished
with 76."What are you going to do?" Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
"Their guy pitched well, obviously. I thought once Towers got
through the first couple innings, he gained some confidence. Early
on I could see he wasn't quite sure of himself. His pitch quality
became better, velocity came up and he began to relax, which is
what they were hoping he would do."B.J. Ryan then got the final three outs for Toronto, which has
won six of eight.Tampa Bay starter Casey Fossum (1-2) gave up four runs and nine
hits in six innings. The Devil Rays, who have lost 17 of 25, have
scored five runs or less in 14 straight games."I don't think this team should be pressing about hitting,"
Lugo said. "We're hitting the ball, we're just not clicking right
now. We're not getting the hits at the right time. Every guy in
this lineup has a history of hitting. Things are going to be
fine."Towers retired his first 10 batters before Carl Crawford
grounded a single to right with one out in the fourth.Crawford went to third when Towers was charged with an error for
an errant pick off throw to first. Towers hit Jonny Gomes with a
pitch and Aubrey Huff followed with a sacrifice fly that got the
Devil Rays within 2-1.Alex Rios put Toronto ahead 1-0 on a first-inning homer. Bengie
Molina made it 2-0 on an RBI single in the fourth.Vernon Wells had an RBI infield single during a two-run fifth
that gave the Blue Jays a 4-1 advantage. He hit a run-scoring
double during a three-run ninth that extended the Toronto lead to
8-1.Molina had a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Blue Jays LHP Gustavo Chacin (elbow and forearm strain)
threw for nine minutes on flat ground. He could miss his next two
scheduled starts, including next Saturday. "It might be a little
soon for him," Gibbons said. "He'll throw on the side and we'll
see where he's at. I don't want to push him too much." ... Huff
went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and is 3-for-31 since returning
from a left knee injury. ... Rios is 2-for-12 against Fossum. Both
hits are home runs.