Bautista and Rios both get 4 hits for Blue Jays
TORONTO (AP)—Locked in a tight AL Central race, the Minnesota Twins can’t afford too many nights like this.
Jose Bautista and Alex Rios had four hits each, hitting back-to-back homers Tuesday as the Toronto Blue Jays erased a four-run deficit to beat Minnesota 7-5 for their seventh straight victory over the Twins.
“This is a game we should have won,” Minnesota pitcher Boof Bonser said. “We know where we are, so every game is big.”
Lyle Overbay also homered for Toronto, which finished with 17 hits in winning its third straight.
Minnesota stayed tied with the Chicago White Sox atop the AL Central. The Twins lost for the seventh time in 10 games and dropped to 5-7 with two games remaining on a season-long 14-game road trip.
“We didn’t keep the ball in the ballpark,” manager Ron Gardenhire lamented. “It’s unfortunate. We came out swinging the bats pretty good, running around the bases pretty good early in the game and we just kind of gave it back to them.”
Minnesota’s past seven losses have been by a combined 11 runs.
“It’s getting old,” outfielder Denard Span said. “We’ve lost some tough ones this whole road trip. All the losses we’ve had have been ones that we should have won the game. We’ve got to start picking it up and start finishing games a little better.”
The White Sox lost 9-3 at Cleveland, their fifth defeat in six games.
“It’s more on us,” Twins starter Glen Perkins said. “We can’t rely on them to lose.”
Down 5-1, Toronto cut the gap to one with a three-run fifth that featured a two-run homer by Bautista, his first since joining Toronto in an Aug. 21 trade with Pittsburgh. Rios followed with his 11th, giving Toronto back-to-back homers for the second time this season. Matt Stairs and Scott Rolen did it June 13 in a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Rolen walked leading off the sixth and Overbay put Toronto ahead 6-5 with a two-run homer off Bonser (3-7), his 12th.
“It was right down the middle and it was supposed to be away,” Bonser said about the fastball that Overbay hit to right.
Overbay is batting .328 (20-for-61) with 13 RBIs in his past 16 games and hopes to end an up-and-down season on a high note.
“Usually I’m just kind of even,” Overbay said. “It seems like I’ve gone good and then I’ve gone bad and I just can’t stay in the middle of it. Hopefully this month will be something I can build on.”
Toronto has 102 home runs, the third-lowest total in the AL. Only Minnesota and Kansas City, with 98 each, have hit fewer.
Four left-handers came out of Toronto’s bullpen to work six shutout innings, including two perfect ones by Jesse Carlson (5-1). Brian Tallet handled the fourth and fifth, Carlson the sixth and seventh, Scott Downs the eighth and B.J. Ryan closed it out for his 26th save in 29 opportunities.
“If you get some runs off (Toronto) early you’d better hold them because if you get behind, it’s going to be really tough with that pitching staff and that bullpen,” Gardenhire said.
Bonser, the second of six Minnesota pitchers, took the loss, allowing two runs and two hits in one inning.
Minnesota took a 3-0 lead in the third when Alexi Casilla and Joe Mauer led off with singles before Casilla scored on a single by Justin Morneau. Mauer scored and Morneau went to second on a wild pitch before Delmon Young capped the rally two outs later with a run-scoring single.
Vernon Wells had an RBI single in the bottom half, but Minnesota added two runs in the fourth to make it 5-1. Nick Punto singled, stole second and scored on Span’s single. Span, who took second on the throw, stole third and scored one out later on Mauer’s sacrifice fly.
Rios gave the Blue Jays an insurance run with an RBI double in the eighth off Matt Guerrier.
Blue Jays starter David Purcey allowed five runs and seven hits in three-plus innings. He walked two and struck out four.
Purcey was the seventh consecutive left-handed starter the Twins have faced, making them the first team to see seven straight southpaws since the 1991 New York Mets. The Twins have gone 3-4 in those games.
Perkins gave up four runs and 10 hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out one.
“It was just one of those nights where I didn’t have anything, really,” said Perkins, who has won nine of his past 10 decisions. “It was a struggle the whole night just to try and find it. From the time I stepped on the field it didn’t feel quite right.”
Mauer’s sacrifice fly was Minnesota’s major league-leading 61st of the season. … Minnesota LHP Jose Mijares, one of seven players added to the roster Tuesday, did not travel to Toronto because of visa problems. The Venezuela native will join the Twins when they return home Friday to open a three-game series against Detroit. … Toronto activated OF Brad Wilkerson from the 15-day DL and recalled RHP Shaun Marcum, OF Kevin Mench, RHP Scott Richmond, C Curtis Thigpen and RHP Brian Wolfe. Marcum will return to the starting rotation Saturday against Tampa Bay, while Richmond and Wolfe will pitch out of the bullpen.