Blue Jays 7, Royals 5

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—The Toronto Blue Jays regained their hitting stroke Saturday night.

Shea Hillenbrand hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning, and Aaron Hill had four hits—matching his career-high—and two RBIs to lead the Jays to a 7-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

Vernon Wells added three hits and two RBIs for the Blue Jays, who lead the American League with a .292 batting average and a .480 slugging percentage but had hit just .190 in their past four games. They broke out for 15 hits, including six for extra bases, and every starter had at least one hit in this game.

“We’ve been hitting all year,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “That is not going to disappear.”

Hill had his second career four-hit game—his first since June 20, 2005, against Baltimore—to raise his average to .288.

“I’m not worried about (the offense),” Hill said. “It just happened the past few days everyone struggled a little bit. It was good to see everybody come out swinging.”

The Jays snapped a three-game losing streak, matching their longest skid of the season.

“We know we’re better than this,” Hill said. “This team is so good. We still haven’t even played to our ability in my opinion and a lot of people’s opinion. We’ve done a good job so far, but there is always room for improvement.”

Hillenbrand led off the seventh with a long home run to left off Joel Peralta (1-1), the third Kansas City pitcher who had just entered the game. Russ Adams’ two-out triple scored Hill with the second run of the inning.

It was Hillenbrand’s first home run since June 11, a span of 23 games. He had just one RBI in his previous 13 games.

“I’m not a home run hitter,” he said. “I’ve got 37 RBIs. I haven’t been driving in runs all year.”

His 12th home run, however, was a no doubter.

“He smoked that thing,” Gibbons said.

Peralta threw a 1-0 fastball that Hillenbrand jumped on.

“It was up in the zone and you never want to do that,” Peralta said. “If you make a mistake here, you are going to pay for it.”

The Royals snapped their four-game winning streak, their longest since winning five in a row June 11-16, 2005.

Wells’ RBI single in the first drove in Reed Johnson, who doubled to lead off the game. Wells tripled in the Blue Jays’ three-run third and scored on Gregg Zaun’s double. Wells’ RBI-single in the fourth scored Frank Catalanotto, tying the score at 5-5.

“We started out so well and the expectations got so high,” Wells said. “We had four or five guys hitting .350. The last time I checked, that really hadn’t happened over the course of a season in one lineup ever.

“We will battle through this. Hopefully, we’ll continue this tomorrow. We’re a good team. you’re going to go through your lows and you are going to play some bad baseball here and there. We need to put together a long winning streak.”

Hill grounded a two-run single up the middle with two outs in the third, giving the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead.

Brian Tallet (2-0), the third of six Toronto pitchers, picked up his second victory of the season and his second since Sept. 16, 2002. He got Doug Mientkiewicz to ground out to end the sixth inning with the bases loaded.

B.J. Ryan got the last three outs for his 24th save in 25 chances.

The Royals scored four runs in the third, highlighted by Tony Graffanino’s two-run double. The Royals have had a double in 30 straight games, the longest streak in the majors this season. Reggie Sanders and Emil Brown drove in the other runs with singles.

Royals starter Scott Elarton faced 21 batters with 12 reaching base—on nine hits, two walks and a hit batter—before he was replaced by Andrew Sisco with one out in the fourth.

“I really didn’t have much command of anything,” Elarton said. “Everything was either a foot outside or right down the middle. A lot of times I can battle through it and get my command, but not tonight.”

Angel Berroa homered for the first time since May 26 in the bottom of the second to tie the score at 1-1.

Blue Jays left-hander Ted Lilly, 3-1 with a 3.88 earned run average in his previous four starts, allowed five runs, six hits and two walks with five strikeouts in five innings. ^Notes: Royals 2B Mark Grudzielanek left after five innings with tightness in his lower back. … Graffanino started at a third different positions in three nights. Graffanino was at first base on Saturday, shortstop on Friday and second base on Thursday. … Casey Janssen replaced Lilly in the sixth for his first relief appearance. Janssen gave up two hits in two-thirds of an inning. … Zaun has hit in 22 of his past 25 starts. … DH Matt Stairs is 10-for-23 (a .435 average) against RHP Roy Halladay, who starts Sunday for the Blue Jays.

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