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Buehrle pitches into 7th, Francisco, Rasmus go deep as Blue Jays beat Royals 7-3, avoid sweep

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Mark Buehrle allowed two walks and both runners ended up scoring.

So despite pitching into the seventh inning Thursday night, and helping the Toronto Blue Jays to a 7-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals that staved off a series sweep, the veteran left-hander still had something to ruminate over in the visiting clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium.

"I'd rather give up 10 hits and no walks. I hate it. Make them earn it," Buehrle said. "But you know, our offence bounced back and the defence played well behind me."

Apparently, nobody is tougher on Buehrle than Buehrle.

Juan Francisco and Colby Rasmus each homered and drove in two runs, and Anthony Gose also had a pair of RBIs after getting recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to start in place of injured outfielder Melky Cabrera, helping Toronto avoid its first three-game sweep by the Royals since 1993.

Buehrle (5-1) worked through plenty of trouble in 6 2-3 innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits and those two walks. Aaron Loup pitched 2 1-3 shutout innings for his third career save.

"(Buehrle) pitches to win," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's going to do whatever it takes, and he's on a nice little roll. He's having a good year for us."

The Royals' Jeremy Guthrie (2-2) left trailing 4-3 after six innings, but his bullpen was unable to keep it close. Billy Butler drove in a pair of runs, but that was just about it for Kansas City, which had its three-game winning streak come to an end.

"He mixes speeds. He locates. He frustrates you," Butler said of Buehrle, no stranger to Kansas City having pitched for the AL Central rival White Sox. "He feeds off your over aggressiveness."

The teams traded blows most of the way.

Toronto struck first when Chris Getz singled in the first inning and then swiped bases all the way to third, where Edwin Encarnacion drove him in with a fielder's choice.

Kansas City answered in the second when Justin Maxwell walked and Alcides Escobar singled to right. Jose Bautista flubbed the pickup, allowing Maxwell to score easily.

The Royals pulled ahead in the third on Butler's single, though they squandered another scoring opportunity when Eric Hosmer was thrown out at home for the second straight night.

The Blue Jays regained the lead the next half inning when Francisco, who had two homers in three at-bats off Guthrie last season, hit a two-run shot over the bullpen in right field. But the Royals answered again on Butler's two-out double to left in the bottom of the fifth.

"I'm seeing the ball good now," Butler said. "I knew it was going to come."

The Royals kept shifting dramatically to deal with the Blue Jays' left-handed power hitters, but it didn't matter when Rasmus came to bat in the sixth. He powered a 1-2 pitch right over the defence for a two-out homer that gave Toronto a 4-3 lead.

"I was trying to go down and in and didn't get it there," Guthrie said.

Guthrie finished off the inning, but was lifted after allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks in just six innings. His bumpy night stood in stark contrast to his last four outings against the Blue Jays, when he went 1-0 with a 1.44 ERA.

The Blue Jays tacked on some insurance in the eighth. Rasmus drew a bases-loaded walk off Michael Mariot, and then Gose hit a two-run double off Louis Coleman that broke the game open.

"It was definitely a big win," Loup said. "Close game like it was, back and forth, back and forth. Hopefully it gets us on a roll, gets us some wins."

NOTES: Toronto selected the contract of INF Steve Tolleson from Triple-A Buffalo. INF Jonathan Diaz was optioned to Buffalo and OF Moises Sierra designated for assignment. ... Royals LHP Bruce Chen (back inflammation) is expected to go on the DL, manager Ned Yost said. It was unclear who will start in his place Saturday against Detroit. ... Cabrera got the night off after getting hit in the left shin Wednesday. Gibbons said he should be available for this weekend's series in Pittsburgh.

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