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Jays continue to roll, top Cards

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- On a night the Toronto Blue Jays honored former manager Cito Gaston and battery-mates Jimmy Key and Ernie Whitt to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their stadium, the club's future was on full display.

Rookie pitcher Marcus Stroman hurled six innings of one-run ball in his second career start, while Brett Lawrie and Jose Bautista each homered to send the Blue Jays to a 3-1 series-opening victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Rogers Centre on Friday.

"He was really, really good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said about Stroman. "He's a great competitor. He's on a mission."

After being demoted to Triple-A to get stretched out as a starter following some shaky outings working out of Toronto's bullpen, Stroman has come back with a vengeance.

Stroman (3-0) won his second consecutive start and punched out a career-high seven batters to send the Cardinals (31-31) to their eighth loss over the last 10 games. The 23-year-old allowed one run on seven hits and walked two, helping Toronto win its sixth consecutive game and 15th in its last 17 contests.

Toronto started off the month of June with a 5-0 record for the first time since 1988.

Stroman left to a standing ovation from 33,528 after giving up a leadoff single in the seventh before Toronto relievers Brett Cecil, Dustin McGowan and Casey Janssen worked three scoreless innings to preserve the Blue Jays (38-24) lead. Janssen notched his 11th save of the season by retiring the side in order in the ninth.

"It's pretty special," Stroman said of the warm reception. "I tried to do my best tough guy impersonation and tried not to smile. But it was definitely pretty special walking off."

Bautista extended his hitting streak to 12 games and launched his 15th homer of the season in the third inning to tie the game at 1-1, while Lawrie gave the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead with a solo shot of his own in the fifth. The homer was Lawrie's third in his past four games and 11th of the season, which matched a career high for the third baseman.

The home runs came against Cardinals starter Lance Lynn (6-4), who battled through jams all night but allowed just two runs on a pair of solo homers over five innings. Lynn matched a season high by walking four, allowed six hits and struck out six to drop his second straight game. The right-hander has failed to pitch at least six innings in back-to-back starts for the first time this season.

"They made me pay on two pitches in the middle of the zone," Lynn said. "Just one of those nights where I couldn't get them to swing at my off-speed stuff. Two mistakes I made with my heater and they cost me."

St. Louis escaped three bases-loaded jams on the night, including in the sixth inning, when Bautista hit into a 4-6-3 triple play with the Blue Jays leading 2-1. The right fielder lined a shot at second baseman Daniel Descalso, who caught it and alertly threw to shortstop Jhonny Peralta at second to start off the rare feat.

It marked the first triple play the Cardinals have turned since May 5, 2005. St. Louis became the first opponent to turn one against Toronto since Cleveland did on May 12, 2008.

"He happened to hit it right at me," Descalso said. "It got us out of a jam and kept us in the game."

Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes hit an RBI single in the eighth off right-hander Jason Motte to give Toronto a two-run lead. Reyes went 3-for-3 -- his third three-hit game of the season -- walked twice, and reached base a season-high five teams.

The Cardinals opened up the scoring in the top of the first on an opposite-field single from first baseman Allen Craig off Stroman to take a 1-0 lead. Bautista prevented St. Louis from cashing two on the play as he unleashed a bullet to catcher Dioner Navarro to nail a sliding Matt Holliday, who attempted to score from second, at the plate.

"Every run for us right now is a big play," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "They made a great throw, we thought he might have got around it but the camera showed different."

Lawrie then ranged to his right to backhand a play in the hole and made a jump throw to first base to get Yadier Molina to end the inning. The Cardinals were unable to put anything across the board after that and have been limited to five runs over their last three games.

NOTES: Cardinals 2B Kolten Wong (left shoulder) did not start Friday's series opener in Toronto and is considered day-to-day. Wong, who received an anti-inflammatory shot Friday, was forced to leave Thursday's game because of shoulder discomfort. ... Blue Jays RHP Sergio Santos (right forearm) threw a side session Thursday with no reported setbacks. ... Toronto CF Colby Rasmus (right hamstring tightness) could begin a rehab assignment by the middle of next week, manager John Gibbons said. ... The Blue Jays celebrated the 25th anniversary of Rogers Centre before Friday's game and showed videos of the stadium's greatest moments throughout the contest. Unveiled in 1989, the Rogers Centre, which was then known as the SkyDome, was the world's first fully retractable stadium.
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