Blue Jays 9, Royals 1

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TORONTO (AP)—A high-scoring offense has the Toronto Blue Jays off to the best start in the AL East.

A.J. Burnett and three relievers combined on a four-hitter and Vernon Wells homered to lead Toronto to a 9-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals in the Blue Jays’ home opener on Monday night.

Lyle Overbay hit a three-run double for the AL East-leading Blue Jays, who have averaged seven runs a game in the first six games. Toronto has won three straight to improve to 4-2.

“You expect it from our guys. I hate to say that, but we expect to get four or five runs a game,” Burnett said.

John Buck homered off Burnett for the Royals, who played the first of a 10-game road trip. Kansas City finished with the second-worst road record in the AL last season at 28-53.

Burnett (1-1) allowed just three hits, struck out five and walked three in 6 2-3 innings. He lasted just two innings in his first start—his shortest since June 30, 2004.

Kansas City loaded the bases in the second and third but couldn’t score.

“It was a battle early, but when our guys come up and swinging like they did it lifts us up so much,” Burnett said.

Royals manager Buddy Bell said they let Burnett off the hook.

“He pitched pretty well after that,” Bell said.

Bell was ejected after plate umpire Paul Nauret allowed Toronto’s Reed Johnson to score from first on a ground-rule double that a fan interfered with.

A runner is usually awarded two bases when there is a ground-rule double, but Nauret deemed Johnson would have scored on Overbay’s second-inning hit to right.

He was ejected during a heated argument with both Nauret and crew chief Gerry Davis.

“Gerry said the runner was standing on third base when the fan touched the ball and I didn’t see it that way,” Bell said. “That was the disagreement.”

Johnson’s RBI single and Overbay’s three-run double gave Toronto a 4-0 lead in the second.

Kansas City starter Odalis Perez (0-2) lost his second straight start. He allowed four runs and seven hits in just 1 1-3 innings.

“We didn’t play well in every phase,” Bell said. “It just wasn’t a pretty sight.”

Wells hit a solo drive off Jason Standridge in the fifth.

Aaron Hill, Toronto’s seventh hitter, went 3-for-3 with two doubles.

“We can score runs from top to bottom in our lineup,” Wells said. “It takes the pressure off our pitching.”

Notes

Attendance was 51,025, a sellout for the second straight year. … Toronto was 50-31 at Rogers Centre in 2006, tying for the second-best home record in the majors. … The Blue Jays are 23-8 in home openers. … Buck, Kansas City’s catcher, dropped a pop fly by home plate in the sixth. The ball was ruled foul. … A fan wearing an Islanders jersey was booed when he was shown on the Jumbotron. The Islanders clinched the eighth and final playoff spot in the NHL’s Eastern Conference on Sunday—leaving Toronto out of the playoffs for the second straight year. … The fan who interfered with Overbay’s hit in the second inning was ejected for grabbing the ball while it was still in play.

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