Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jays finally punch back

T.O. dodges series sweep by doubling up Yankees

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TORONTO -- This time the rally stuck.

One day after an 11th-inning defensive blunder spoiled a Toronto comeback, the Blue Jays reeled off six straight runs Sunday afternoon to down the New York Yankees 8-4 and avert a series sweep.

Toronto (8-11) heads off to Baltimore for three games and then New York for four, thinking it may finally be heading down the right road after a wobbly start.

"We still have that feeling inside that we're close -- to breaking out and getting everything going in the right direction," manager John Gibbons said.

"Baseball, since you do play every day, is a emotional roller coaster," he added. "So many ups and downs. We haven't really had that good feeling (yet) ... We've got a good ball club. We just think it's a matter of time. Maybe today's something that will get us going."

There were a lot of contributors to Sunday's win.

With Toronto trailing 4-2, Brett Lawrie doubled home two runs in a four-run sixth inning. J.P. Arencibia hit his seventh homer one inning later to keep the comeback cooking.

Adam Lind tied a club record with four consecutive walks, Melky Cabrera went 3-for-4 and Colby Rasmus went 2-for-3, driving in a run with a timely hit off a left-hander.

Munenori Kawasaki, in his first crack at leading off, scored and drove in a run in the first two innings.

And the Toronto bullpen -- in the form of Brett Cecil (1-0), Esmil Rogers and Darren Oliver -- delivered 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.

The Blue Jays opened the scoring for just the sixth time this season (it has won five of those games). It also marked the first time in eight games -- an 8-4 win in Kansas City on April 17 -- that it had scored more than four runs.

"It was huge. A good team win," said Toronto starter Josh Johnson, who gave up eight hits and four runs while striking out four and walking three in 5 1/3 innings. "Everybody contributed. Everybody did something."

Johnson, who gave up a solo homer to catcher Chris Stewart in the third, seemed to have things under control until the fifth inning when consecutive bases-loaded walks gifted New York a 3-2 lead.

"I just lost it," said the big right-hander. "It seems like it happens a couple times a year where all of a sudden you can't find the zone."

Lawrie's heroics with the bat helped take the sting out of being involved in the fielding breakdown that led to the New York win Saturday. It was all the more impressive given that he has been thrown back into the deep end after a long layoff due to a rib injury.

Lawrie was hitting .105 going into the game, with just two hits in 19 at-bats.

"In a lot of ways it's like spring training for him now," Gibbons said of where Lawrie's hitting is at.

Lawrie also shone at third base by stabbing a hard hit ball from Stewart in the eighth to trigger a double play.

The game was a sellout for the second straight day at the Rogers Centre, with 45,575 on hand to see the Jays show some fight -- and offence. Toronto came into the game ranked 13th in the American League in batting average (.225).

New York (10-7) lost for just the third time in its last 12 outings.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 22, 2013 C3

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