Ex-bat boy Litsch pitches Blue Jays past D-Rays

Blue Jays 2, Devil Rays 0

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Jesse Litsch once picked up bats for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. On Tuesday night, he shut them down.

Litsch, a former Tampa Bay bat boy, threw 6 2/3 shutout innings against his old employer, leading the Toronto Blue Jays past the Devil Rays 2-0.

"I'm just going to have all the present bat boys come out and throw a bullpen session tomorrow just to see what we've got going on here," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said with a smile. "We cannot permit that to happen ever again.

"He was good," Maddon added. "Really good command. He didn't miss the strike zone. He made good pitches all night."

Litsch (4-4), a Devil Rays bat boy from 2000-02, gave up seven hits in his first pro start at Tropicana Field. The right-hander, who has allowed one earned run or less in four of five starts since being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on June 28, struck two and walked one.

"I wasn't nervous," Litsch said. "It's a game. It's my job, so I've got to go out there and do my best every time."

Carl Crawford, who played for the Devil Rays when Litsch was a bat boy, went 1-for-2 against him.

"It was cool before the game started, but once the game started it was business time," Crawford said. "He kept the ball down. He was hitting his spots. He pitched good."

Toronto won for the seventh time in 10 games while Tampa Bay has lost 26 of 33 since June 25.

"He rose to the occasion today," Toronto manager John Gibbons said of Litsch. "I really didn't think he was nervous though. He has a lot of confidence, he really does. You're not going to find many guys with more confidence than he has."

Matt Stairs put Toronto up 1-0 with an RBI single in the second. Vernon Wells made it 2-0 with a run-scoring double in the eighth.

Scott Downs threw 1 1-3 scoreless innings before Jeremy Accardo pitched the ninth for his 18th save a day after he got his fourth blown save of the season.

Edwin Jackson (2-11) gave up one unearned run and five hits in six innings for the Devil Rays, who were looking for their first three-game winning streak since June 9-12. He had five strikeouts and one walk.

"I feel like I struggled the whole time until the last two innings," Jackson said. "I was struggling to find a comfort zone."

Tampa Bay loaded the bases with one out in the third but failed to score when Carlos Pena hit into a strange double play. Pena hit a liner that second baseman Aaron Hill leaped for. After it deflected off his glove, Hill picked up the ball and flipped it to shortstop John McDonald who got the force at second and then threw to first to complete the double play.

Litsch also got defensive help from Wells, who made a leaping catch at the wall in center field to take an extra base hit from Akinori Iwamura in the fifth.

"It was a great catch," Litsch said. "The defense behind me was awesome. They really came through."

Game notes
Tampa Bay minor-league right hander Jeff Niemann, who left his start for Triple-A Durham on Monday after facing one batter with right shoulder fatigue, will be re-examined Wednesday. Tampa Bay executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the problem with the fourth overall pick in the 2004 amateur draft is not thought to be serious. ... The Blue Jays signed left-hander Mark Redman to a minor-league contract. He allowed one run, four hits, four walks and struck out three over 4 1/3 innings for Triple-A Syracuse. ... Toronto DH Curtis Thigpen snapped an 0-for-15 slide with a second-inning double.