Blue Jays 5, Mariners 2

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SEATTLE (AP)—Forget Kelvim Escobar, the closer. These days, he’s unstoppable as a starter.

Escobar, who logged 38 saves last season, earned his career-high fourth straight victory and Carlos Delgado hit his 33rd home run as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Seattle Mariners 5-2 on Thursday night.

Escobar probably has seen his last days in relief, at least for now.

“You can’t say never,” he said, laughing. “You never know. It wouldn’t surprise me, but right now I’m doing pretty good as a starter.”

Escobar (9-6) threw into the eighth, holding the Mariners to eight hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. He improved to 4-0 since the All-Star break and 6-1 on the road with a 2.03 ERA. He has a 1.21 ERA in three August victories.

“He’s a guy who had a four- or five-pitch repertoire,” Toronto manager Carlos Tosca said. “In the closer’s role, he just didn’t have the opportunity to get to those pitches.”

Escobar left after giving up a leadoff single by Edgar Martinez in the eighth. Martinez also had two doubles, one of the few Mariners to connect against Escobar.

“He has closer stuff, but he has really settled into the starter’s role,” Seattle manager Bob Melvin said. “He has a splitter and changeup, and he gets up to 95 mph with a breaking ball on top of it. He was tough tonight.”

Rookie Aquilino Lopez pitched the ninth for his fifth save in seven opportunities and second of the series.

The Blue Jays and Mariners split the four-game series, and Seattle was unable to extend its AL West lead beyond four games after Boston beat Oakland earlier. The Red Sox visit for a three-game set starting Friday.

“It’s a nice way to finish up,” Tosca said. “This is a tough place to play and they have an excellent ballclub. To get out of here with a split is great. With Kelvim pitching that way, it gives us a chance to match up.”

Escobar is a power pitcher, rocketing fastballs at the Mariners all night. His most effective pitch, though, was a deceptive changeup.

“My breaking ball’s been good and my changeup has been good,” he said. I think a changeup is one of the best pitches you can have. It looked like a fastball. They couldn’t recognize it.”

Delgado led off the second with a 382-foot shot over the wall in right for a 1-0 lead. It came on a 3-2 pitch from Gil Meche (13-8) and moved Delgado into second place behind New York’s Jason Giambi (34) for the AL lead in home runs.

Delgado also had a fourth-inning triple, helping the Blue Jays extend the lead to 4-0 with three more runs.

After his one-out triple to center, Delgado scored when Greg Myers singled past drawn-in shortstop Rey Sanchez. Myers was thrown out trying to steal second, but Frank Catalonotto singled and scored on Tom Wilson’s double.

Orlando Hudson singled to left, driving in Wilson to make it 4-0.

The Blue Jays made it 5-2 in the ninth. Greg Myers led off with a single to right and was replaced by pinch-runner Dave Berg, who scored on a sacrifice fly by Hudson, his second RBI.

In his last start, Meche worked eight innings to outduel Andy Pettitte for a 2-1 win Saturday at Yankee Stadium. This time, he lasted only to the fourth, throwing 94 pitches and giving up four runs on seven hits with one strikeout.

“It was almost like they were looking for certain pitches,” Meche said. “They were being really patient. The times I made good pitches, they kept fouling them off, pitch after pitch.”

It was only the 10th time a Mariners starter failed to reach the fifthinning.

Notes

Seattle reliever RHP Rafael Soriano took a lined shot off his right knee on a fifth-inning single by Vernon Wells but stayed in for two more innings. … The Blue Jays recalled RHP Brian Bowles from Triple-A Syracuse, optioning RHP Corey Thurman to Syracuse. … Toronto SS Mike Bordick went0-for-4, ending his 20-game hitting streak.

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