Toronto (22-26) at Minnesota (23-25)

  • Game info: 2:10 pm EDT Sun May 27, 2007
  • TV: WFTC
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Toronto Blue Jays have been without ace Roy Halladay for more than half of May. A.J. Burnett, though, has done an excellent job filling that void.

Burnett seeks to win his fourth straight start Sunday when the Blue Jays conclude a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.

When the Blue Jays (22-26) signed Burnett to a five-year, $55 million contract in December 2005, they hoped he would provide a solid combination atop the starting rotation with Halladay, a former Cy Young winner.

Although elbow injuries limited Burnett to 21 starts last season, he showed what he was capable of doing late in 2006 when he went 8-3 with a 3.34 ERA in his last 11 starts.

Burnett (5-3, 4.14 ERA) has been good for the most part this season, but has shown his late 2006 form only recently. He is 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in his last three starts, striking out 28 and walking nine in that span.

He beat Baltimore in his second consecutive start Tuesday, allowing four runs and six hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 6-4 victory.

Burnett was the winner in his only career appearance against the Twins on Aug. 11. He gave up one run and six hits in seven innings while walking two and striking out 10.

Halladay was expected to miss four to six weeks following an emergency appendectomy earlier this month, but now is scheduled to start Thursday against the Chicago White Sox, his first appearance since May 10.

“I feel good,” Halladay told the Blue Jays’ official Web site. “I feel good and I feel like I’m ready.”

The Blue Jays won in extra innings for the second time in three games Saturday, outlasting the Twins 9-8 in 13 innings.

“It was one of those grind games that could define our season,” said Toronto’s Brian Tallet, who earned the win with 2 2-3 scoreless innings.

Lyle Overbay drove in four runs, including one on a two-out, two-strike single in the top of the 13th as Toronto recovered after blowing a three-run lead in the ninth.

“We needed this one,” Overbay said. “It was one of those things where, if we let it go, it would have been a tough one to recover from.”

Alex Rios went 4-for-7 with a home run and has reached base 10 times in his last 14 plate appearances. He is batting .536 (15-for-28) with three homers and 10 runs during a seven-game hitting streak.

“I’m just trying to be more patient at the plate,” Rios said. “Since I’m hitting leadoff now, I have to get on base. I’m trying to get more patient so I can see more pitches, get better pitches to hit or draw walks.”

Michael Cuddyer homered and matched a career high with five RBIs for Minnesota (23-25), which failed in a bid for a season-high fourth straight win.

Carlos Silva (2-5, 4.47) hopes to avoid losing a career-worst fifth straight start for the Twins. The right-hander had his worst outing of the season Monday in a 14-4 loss at Texas, giving up seven runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings. He has surrendered 12 runs in his past two starts after giving up 10 in his previous four.

Silva is 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA in two career starts - both last season - against Toronto.

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Starting Pitchers

A. Burnett PIT vs. C. Silva BOS
10-8 Record 13-14
3.75 ERA 4.19
176 K 89
66 BB 36
1.19 WHIP 1.31

Scoreboard

Sunday, May 27