Third base coach Brian Butterfield waved Vernon Wells around to score the go-ahead run from first base on Lyle Overbay's two-out single in the seventh inning, and the Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 5-4 Saturday for their second straight win following a nine-game losing streak.
"As a baserunner, you just try to go hard and give Butter the option of what he wants to do," Wells said. "He made a great call."
With the score 4-4 and Wells running on a 3-2 pitch, Overbay lined a single into left-center off Brian Stokes (1-5). Playing the outfield for the first time this season, center fielder B.J. Upton made a weak throw to cutoff man Brendan Harris, whose relay to the plate was too late to get the sliding Wells.
"You don't see that much," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "There's very few guys who can do it. Vernon is one of the best baserunners in the league."
Butterfield said he could tell from Upton's body language that the throw would go to the cutoff man and not directly to the plate.
"You've got to wait and wait and see how the fielder approaches the ball, and then you've got to see where your runner is," Butterfield said. "You have to make a decision before it gets to an outfielder's glove, and sometimes you roll the dice."
A downcast Upton said he never expected Wells to try to score.
"I don't play there much," Upton said. "It's my first time out there this season, and it showed."
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said the Devil Rays should have known Wells would head toward the plate.
"They got us," Maddon said. "He's just got to unload that ball. That ball has got to be unloaded, and it's got to be back in the infield sooner. He knows that."
Butterfield said he learned to be aggressive in sending runners from former Yankee Clete Boyer, who told him: "If guys don't get thrown out, you're probably not doing your job right."
Frank Thomas hit his 492nd homer and Adam Lind also connected for the Blue Jays, sending Tampa Bay to its sixth straight loss. The Devil Rays are 6-13 on the road.
Scott Downs (1-0) pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings, Casey Janssen threw a perfect eighth and Jeremy Accardo worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save of the season. Accardo has not allowed a run over 16 2-3 innings this year. "He's throwing strikes, he's working ahead and he's got command of his splitter," Gibbons said. "He's keeping it in the zone. That's a big thing for him. It's got to look like a strike."
Tampa Bay starter Edwin Jackson struck out a career-high nine in six innings but remained winless in seven starts this season. Jackson gave up four runs and six hits.
Toronto's Dustin McGowan, making his second major league start of the season, gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings and matched a career-high with six strikeouts.
Ty Wiggington's RBI single put Tampa Bay ahead in the first, but Lind's solo homer and Thomas' two-run drive gave Toronto a 3-1 lead in the third.
Carlos Pena's solo homer in the fifth and Carl Crawford's two-run homer in the sixth gave the Devil Rays a 4-3 lead, but Royce Clayton hit an RBI single in the bottom half that scored Aaron Hill, who was hit on the stomach by Upton's throw.
Blue Jays RHP Roy Halladay was released from a hospital, a day after an appendectomy. He is expected to be sidelined four-to-six weeks. INF Ryan Roberts was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. ... Toronto's Troy Glaus, who left Friday's game with a sore heel, did not play Saturday. Jason Smith started at third base. ... Josh Wilson, claimed off waivers from Washington on Thursday, made his Devil Rays debut, getting the start at third. He was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.