ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- After getting a hit in eight straight at-bats, Aubrey Huff gave credit to the man who stopped his streak.
Huff hit his 29th homer and Mark Hendrickson pitched seven solid innings, leading the Tampa Bay Devil Rays past the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 on Friday night.Huff's bid for a ninth straight hit was foiled by left fielder
Reed Johnson's diving catch in the fourth inning."I step on first and look up, and he looks like he's three feet in the air fully horizontal," Huff said. "That was a good play."Huff's homer in the first extended his streak to eight at-bats with a hit -- tying Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki and San Francisco's
Deivi Cruz for the majors' longest run this season.Julio Lugo broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run single in the sixth for Tampa Bay, which leads Toronto by 1½ games for fourth place in the AL East. The Devil Rays have finished last in all six years of the team's existence."It was a good win," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "Everything worked well today. Had some timely hitting. Got some good pitching."Hendrickson (10-15) gave up two runs and five hits. Danys Baez
pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 31 opportunities.Toronto starter Josh Towers (9-7) allowed four runs and seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. It was his second start since missing two outings because of right shoulder soreness.Orlando Hudson had an RBI infield single during a two-run third that gave Toronto a 2-1 lead."You never want to finish last," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "I'm not obsessed with it. I didn't give a rah-rah speech."Tampa Bay tied it on Carl Crawford's homer in the fifth.Both benches were warned by plate umpire Joe West after Hendrickson's first pitch to Guillermo Quiroz leading off the third was well inside at knee level. No action was taken when Quiroz was hit in the foot by a breaking ball from Hendrickson on a 1-2 pitch.Hendrickson also hit Russ Adams with a pitch with a runner on first and no outs in the fifth. Again, no action was taken, and Gibbons left the dugout and briefly discussed the matter with West."There was no intent to hit Russ Adams," Hendrickson said. "I know that didn't look good, but I was happy he didn't throw me out there."Tampa Bay pitchers have hit 89 batters this season. They started the day leading the majors in that category.Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli was hit by Towers' pitch in the second. He stared toward the mound after being hit."I was not trying to hit him," Towers said. "That's why I was surprised, but at the same time, last game I did hit him and today I hit him again. So in his shoes, I'd be upset too."
Hendrickson snapped a seven-game losing streak, dating to July 28, when he won as a reliever Tuesday. ... Tampa Bay officials are monitoring the progress of Hurricane Jeanne. "Let's hope
Hurricane Jeanne doesn't influence our weather," Piniella said. The Devil Rays will play a doubleheader Thursday with Detroit to make up two games postponed because of Hurricane Frances earlier this month. ... Toronto CF Vernon Wells went 0-for-4, ending his 13-game hitting streak. ... The Devil Rays signed a two-year
agreement with Class A Visalia of the California League.