ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Hideo Nomo pitched seven strong innings and Aubrey Huff hit a three-run homer, leading the Tampa Bay Devil Rays past the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 Monday night.

Nomo (5-6) allowed two runs and eight hits for just his third win in his last 13 starts. He struck out three and walked two.

Huff hit a three-run shot in the third that snapped a 14-inning scoreless streak for Tampa Bay. It was his fifth homer of the season, and first since June 3. Huff had 29 homers last year.

The victory moved Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella (1,479-1,375) to within one of tying Earl Weaver for 19th place on the all-time list. The Devil Rays snapped a six-game losing skid at home.

Danys Baez got the final four outs for his 13th save in 19 opportunties, despite allowing an RBI single to Alex Rios in the eighth.

Toronto manager John Gibbons was ejected by plate umpire C.B. Bucknor in the third. Gibbons apparently said something from the dugout after Bucknor called a pitch to Huff a ball. Bucknor took several steps toward the Toronto dugout, but took no action.

After Huff homered, Gibbons was tossed after the first pitch to the next hitter, Jorge Cantu. Bucknor and Gibbons jawed with each other near the plate before crew chief Jerry Crawford stepped between the pair and Gibbons headed back toward the dugout.

Carl Crawford and Julio Lugo had drawn two-out walks from Pete Walker (3-1) before Huff’s homer. Walker gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings.

Orlando Hudson pulled the Blue Jays within 3-2 on a two-run, bases-loaded single in the fourth. He had a pair of homers and three RBIs in Sunday’s 9-5 win at Washington.

The Devil Rays took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth on Jonny Gomes’ solo homer.

Notes: Gibbons has been ejected four times this season. … Blue Jays C Ken Huckaby snapped an 0-for-20 slide with a third-inning single. … Crawford has a stolen base in six of his last seven games. He stole second in the third inning. … Tampa Bay C Toby Hall went 2-for-4, giving him three hits in his last 33 at-bats. … Toronto has lost seven of its last eight road games.

AP-ES-06-27-05 2149EDT


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