Blue Jays 5, Rangers 3

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TORONTO (AP)—The Toronto Blue Jays could have a hard time re-signing Kelvim Escobar if he continues to pitch like this.

Escobar, eligible for free agency after this season, allowed just three hits in eight innings and Reed Johnson hit a go-ahead single in the bottom of the eighth as the Blue Jays beat the Texas Rangers 5-3 on Saturday.

“There’s a month and a half left and I just want to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” said Escobar, who is 7-5 with a 3.21 ERA since being placed in the starting rotation on May 18.

“I want to stay here. We’ll see what happens.”

Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi has said they will try to re-sign Escobar, who wants a three-year deal. The rebuilding Blue Jays might not be able to afford him if there is a bidding war.

“I don’t think I’ve ever pitched like this before. It’s been great as a starter,” said Escobar, who has been shuffled between the bullpen and the rotation throughout his career. “I’ve been able to be consistent and I’ve given my team a chance to win.”

Escobar (8-6) allowed just Ramon Nivar’s single to center in the third, Einar Diaz’s single in the fifth and Nivar’s single in the eighth.

The 27-year-old right-hander allowed two runs—one earned—while striking out seven and walking three.

“I’m very happy now because I’ve had ups and downs in my career,” Escobar said. “I’m taking advantage of my talent because I know I’m still young and very talented.”

Texas second baseman Michael Young said Escobar will be a much sought after free agent.

“I’m sure they’ll be plenty of teams lining up to have him,” Young said. “He’s got great stuff. If you give that guy 35 starts a year there is no telling what he can do.

It was a very good move for him to become a starter full time. He throws 95, 96 and throws five other pitches at you. It makes it pretty tough. It keeps you uncomfortable. He had everything working for him.”

Eric Hinske doubled off Aaron Fultz (1-3) in the eighth before Fultz intentionally walked Bobby Kielty. Rosman Garcia struck out pinch-hitter Dave Berg before Johnson hit his two-out single to right.

Mike Bordick followed with an RBI single, giving Toronto a 4-2 lead. The single extended Bordick’s hitting streak to a career high 17 games. Vernon Wells then reached on infield single to load the bases.

Reliever Brian Shouse entered and hit Carlos Delgado with a pitch to make it 5-2.

The Blue Jays needed three relievers to finish off Escobar’s effort.

Trever Miller began the ninth by walking Rafael Palmeiro. Scott Service relieved and gave up a single to Mark Teixeira. After an out, he allowed a single to Laynce Nix and walked Jason Jones, scoring Palmeiro.

Aquilino Lopez came on and struck out Nivar and got Young to fly to center for his third save.

Toronto’s Frank Catalanotto singled in the third, advanced to third on Orlando Hudson’s single and scored on Bordick’s sacrifice fly.

Nivar hit an RBI grounder in the fifth, tying it at one.

Hinske’s sacrifice fly in the sixth gave Toronto a 2-1 lead.

Nivar singled in the seventh and advanced to third on Escobar’s wild pickoff attempt. Young followed with a sacrifice fly, tying it at 2.


Escobar has pitched seven or more innings in seven of his last ninestarts. … The Rangers didn’t homer for the first time in 12 games.

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