Rays snap 5-game skid behind Kazmir's strong outing

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Carl Crawford made sure the Rays got a much-needed win.

Crawford hit a two-run double during a four-run third inning, and Scott Kazmir pitched well enough to help Tampa Bay end a five-game skid with an 8-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday night.

"I'm just happy that the losing streak is over," Crawford said. "I'm glad we were able to get the win because we needed it. Everybody came and did their job. Usually when we're all clicking like this we're a pretty tough team to beat."

Jason Bartlett hit an RBI single, Crawford drove in two with his double and Evan Longoria had a run-scoring double off Brian Tallet (5-7) as Tampa Bay took a 4-2 lead in the third.

Crawford has six hits in eight at-bats, and has scored four times in the past two games. He also stole his major league-leading 54th base Saturday night.

"I'm really impressed with him right now," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He's locked in. It's fun to watch."

Kazmir (7-7) gave up three runs and five hits with seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. The left-hander was coming off a start last Sunday in which he gave up seven runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings of an 11-2 loss at Seattle.

"It's always big to end a losing streak, especially at this part of the season," Kazmir said. "If we can string a couple more games together like this, I think that we can feel a lot more confident."

Kazmir has won his last three home starts, allowing seven earned runs in 19 1/3 innings.

"It's not like the last time we've seen him here," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "It looked like he was his old self as far as throwing the ball. He had good stuff."

Aaron Hill hit his 28th homer of the season for the Blue Jays, a two-run shot in the third. Toronto has homered in nine straight games, and has 36 homers over the last 21 games.

Longoria made it 5-2 on an RBI single in the fifth. Willy Aybar and pinch hitter Gabe Gross had run-scoring singles in a three-run seventh that extended the Rays' lead to 8-3.

Toronto loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh, but scored just once to get within 5-3 on Raul Chavez's RBI grounder.

Tallet replaced rookie left-hander Brett Cecil, who is out with a left knee injury. He gave up five runs and 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings in his first start since July 25.

"The big thing was just in the third inning," Tallet said. "I've got to find a way to keep them to one or two runs, but I left some pitches up in that inning and it seemed to prove costly."

Cecil, 5-1 with a 4.35 ERA in 13 games, will participate in his first defensive workout Sunday and could be back in the rotation within the next week.

Vernon Wells (1,321) singled in the eighth to move past Lloyd Moseby into third place on the Blue Jays' career hits list with 1,321.

Game notes
Tallet is 1-4 with a 7.24 ERA in his last 11 starts. ... Rays DH Pat Burrell (stiff neck) didn't play. He could return to the lineup Tuesday. ... The Blue Jays signed RHP Chad Jenkins, who taken 20th overall in this year's amateur draft. ... Tampa Bay recalled INF Reid Brignac from Triple-A Durham. ... Toronto LHP Scott Downs (toe) is throwing and will take part in defensive drills Sunday.