Molina falls double short of cycle as Blue Jays rip D-Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Bengie Molina had a key home run and left his teammates laughing after his rare triple.

Molina hit a tiebreaking, two-run shot during a four-run eighth inning and came within a double of hitting for the cycle, lifting the Toronto Blue Jays over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6-2 on Thursday night.

Molina put the Blue Jays ahead against Brian Meadows (2-4) with his 12th homer of the season. He singled in the sixth and hit his third career triple, and first since Sept. 7, 2000, in the second inning.

"They were all yelling," Toronto's A.J. Burnett said of the dugout reaction to the triple. "I was trying not to laugh. Everybody else was laughing. We were hoping for that double at the end of the game, but he didn't get it."

Molina started laughing too after looking at his teammates.

"I saw it through the corner of my eye," he said. "I was laughing so hard. I pointed to them because I saw how excited they were for me. It makes you feel good."

With the chance to hit for the cycle, Molina grounded out in the ninth.

"I was thinking about a double at the end," Molina said. "I didn't want to come out of my swing or out of my way to do it, but I was thinking if I hit a ball in the gap or something I was going."

Gregg Zaun, in a 4-for-49 slump, hit a two-run shot homer later in the eighth against Meadows.

Burnett (5-5) won his third straight start, giving up two runs and four hits in seven innings.

Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir allowed two hits and struck out 10 in five scoreless innings, his second start after missing almost three weeks with left shoulder inflammation. He walked three during an
89-pitch outing.

"It felt good," Kazmir said. "Got ahead with my fastball from the get-go. The slider felt good. I used that a lot with two strikes."

Kazmir has struck out 10 or more five times this season and eight overall. The 22-year-old left-hander has 370 career strikeouts, two short of Victor Zambrano's team record.

"Kazmir was awesome," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "You can just see him getting better and better. He's still young, but you just see his game coming together. He's one of the top guys, and he's only going to get better."

Tampa Bay third baseman B.J. Upton left in the third inning with a strained left shoulder. He was hurt while swinging and missing a 1-1 pitch from Burnett.

"When it happened, I didn't really panic because it's happened before ... every once in a while," said Upton, who might be able to play in a day or two. "It's a little strain. It will be up to the coaching staff and training staff when I'll be in there again."

Lyle Overbay (19) and Reed Johnson (10) both tied career highs with solo homers off Jon Switzer to tie it at 2 in the seventh. Overbay has 12 RBI in his last 10 games.

Toronto loaded the bases with two outs in the second but failed to score when Kazmir struck out John McDonald for his sixth strikeout of the game.

Carl Crawford had the Devil Rays' first three hits off Burnett. He led off the sixth with his third single and then stole second to give him three stolen bases in consecutive games. After Travis Lee
walked, Dioner Navarro put Tampa Bay ahead 1-0 with a single. Jorge Cantu made it 2-0 in the sixth with a run-scoring grounder.

Crawford, who went 3-for-4, has 23 hits in 48 at-bats against the Blue Jays this season.

Game notes
Crawford has 42 stolen bases this season. He is the fifth active player to have stolen 40 bases in four or more seasons. ... The Blue Jays traded infielder-outfielder Eric Hinske to Boston for a player to be named and recalled infielder John Hattig from Triple-A Syracuse. Hattig is first native of Guam to reach the major leagues. ... Toronto optioned right-hander Francisco Rosario to Syracuse.