TORONTO – Carl Crawford homered and drove in three runs in his new spot in the order, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays held on for a 6-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

Manager Lou Piniella decided Friday to drop Crawford from the leadoff spot to second. Joey Gathright went 3-for-5 as the leadoff hitter.

Aubrey Huff also homered for the last-place Devil Rays, who have won two of three since the All-Star break but just three of their last 15 overall.

Former Blue Jay Mark Hendrickson (4-6) won for the first time since June 23, a span of five starts. Hendrickson allowed five runs – four earned – on seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. The 6-foot-9 left-hander walked three and struck out three.

Danys Baez pitched the ninth for his 15th save in 21 chances.

Alex Rios hit a career-high three doubles for the Blue Jays, who have lost four of five since ace Roy Halladay broke a bone in his lower left leg. He is expected to miss four to six weeks.

Toronto starter Josh Towers (6-8) is 1-7 in his last 11 starts. He tied a season high by allowing six runs and a season-high 10 hits in just four innings.

Towers has been tagged for 14 runs and 27 hits in 14 innings in his last three starts.

Tampa Bay jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second on Toby Hall’s RBI single and consecutive run-scoring singles by Gathright and Crawford.

Huff homered in the third, his ninth of the season.

The Blue Jays cut it to 4-3 in the bottom half on Rios’ RBI double, Vernon Wells’ run-scoring triple and Shea Hillenbrand’s RBI double.

Crawford hit a two-run homer to right center in the fourth, giving Tampa Bay a 6-3 lead.

Frank Catalanotto’s RBI single and Rios’ run-scoring double cut it 6-5 in the sixth.

Notes: The Devil Rays designated struggling right-hander Hideo Nomo for assignment. Nomo went 5-8 with a 7.24 ERA in 19 starts. The 37-year-old said he won’t pitch in Japan if he doesn’t get signed by another major league team. … The Blue Jays had a season-high six doubles.

AP-ES-07-16-05 1908EDT


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