Hat trick for Delgado
Blue Jays' slugger has third three-homer game
Updated: Thursday April 05, 2001 4:05 AM
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- It figured that Carlos Delgado would eventually breakthrough against Tampa Bay pitching.
Just 1-for-9 this season, and hitless in his first five at-bats against the Devil Rays, the Toronto slugger homered his last three trips to the plate Wednesday night to drive in four runs and pace the Blue Jays to an 11-8 come-from-behind victory.
"It's awesome. It's a great feeling, but you don't try to do that," said Delgado, who signed a $68 million, four-year contract after hitting .344 with 41 homers and 137 RBIs in 2000. "I think it's impossible to plan to come out and hit three home runs. I just wanted to hit the ball hard."
It was the third three-homer performance of Delgado's career and overshadowed the longest home run in Tropicana Field history -- a 478-foot drive by Tampa Bay's Vinny Castilla, who went 3-for-4 and had four RBIs.
Devil Rays pitchers held Delgado hitless Tuesday night and he was 0-for-2 against starter Paul Wilson before going deep on Tanyon Sturtze, Doug Creek and Ken Hill as the Blue Jays homered five times and scored eight runs in the last four innings.
"That's what this club can do," Toronto manager Buck Martinez said. "Anybody on the club can hit a home run and get you back in the game real quick."
Still, no one has been harder on the Devil Rays than Delgado. He's homered 10 times against Tampa Bay, more than any player.
"He's a phenomenal player, and good players and great players have the ability to come up with those key hits," Martinez said.
Raul Mondesi's two-run homer off Hill (0-1) snapped a 8-8 ninth-inning tie, and Delgado added his second solo shot of the game four pitches later.
Delgado, who hit eight homers during spring training, had a solo homer off Sturtze in the sixth and hit a two-run shot off Creek to break a 5-5 tie in the seventh.
Reliever Paul Quantrill (1-0) pitched two innings to get the win. Billy Koch worked the ninth for his first save, ending the game when Tampa Bay's John Flaherty flied out at the wall in left field with two runners on.
Castilla's shot off Blue Jays starter Joey Hamilton struck one of the catwalks ringing the outfield of the domed stadium and landed in the fourth row of the upper-deck section called 'The Beach' in left field.
Tampa Bay, bidding for its first 2-0 start, rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh off reliever Lance Painter with Ben Grieve and Castilla driving in two with singles. The Devil Rays went ahead 8-7 when Fred McGriff scored from third as Bobby Smith grounded into a double play.
But the lead was short-lived.
Tony Batista hit a broken-bat homer to straight away center on Hill's second pitch of the eighth. Mondesi homered in the ninth after Shannon Stewart drew a leadoff walk, setting the stage for Delgado to finish his 23rd multihomer game.
"That ball Batista hit, I believe his bat is corked," Hill said. "He hit that ball almost 450 feet [actually estimated at 417 feet] and broke the bat. ... I've given up a lot of homers. That is the first one I've seen like that."
Wilson, who missed parts of 1997 and '98 and all of 1999 with separate surgeries on his right shoulder and pitching elbow, allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings.
He left with a 5-4 lead in his bid to win for just the second time since Sept. 20, 1996. The lone victory during the stretch -- snapping a 1,465-day drought -- came against the Blue Jays last Sept. 25.
The Blue Jays scored three times in the third on Homer Bush's RBI single, a throwing error by Devil Rays shortstop Felix Martinez and Alex Gonzalez's sacrifice fly. The runs wiped out a 2-0 lead Tampa Bay took on Flaherty's two-run, second-inning single off Hamilton.
Notes: Flaherty was 0-for-5 lifetime against Hamilton before his two-run single ... After drawing an announced crowd of 41,546 for the opener, attendance slipped to 15,172 Wednesday night ... The Devil Rays were the first AL team to have all its starters hit safely on Opening Day since the Detroit Tigers did it against Tampa Bay in 1998.