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Buehrle maintains mastery over Rangers, Blue Jays win

The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mark Buehrle has had the Texas Rangers' number his entire career.

Put him up against a struggling Rangers lineup that is in the midst of a historically bad month and you have the recipe for a dominant start.

And that's what happened Friday night when Buehrle hurled seven innings of shutout baseball to lead the Blue Jays to an 8-0 win, Toronto's third straight victory.

"He's on a good roll right now," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "When he pitches we win because he keeps us right there every game."

The Blue Jays have been desperate to bounce back from a miserable April, and have done just that. They have won six of their last eight games and now are 9 1/2 games back of Boston in the American League East.

Buehrle and the Blue Jays held Texas to just five hits and never let a Ranger reach third base. He improved his career mark against the Rangers to 13-5 with a 3.00 ERA in 19 starts. He's not exactly sure why he's so successful against Texas, but he does know he enjoys pitching in warm weather.

"When I come off the mound, I like to keep the sweat going and stay warm," Buehrle said.

The Toronto left-hander didn't need much offense against a slumping Rangers lineup, but he got plenty of firepower from the middle of the Blue Jays lineup. Colby Rasmus and J.P. Arencibia belted fourth-inning home runs as Toronto's third through sixth hitters went 7-for-14 with five runs and five RBIs. In all, the Blue Jays collected seven extra-base hits against Justin Grimm and Kyle McClellan.

Edwin Encarnacion extended his hitting streak to 10 games with two doubles to ignite the Blue Jays offensive barrage.

The punchless Rangers got something going in the second inning when Adrian Beltre singled and Nelson Cruz walked, but Buehrle got a flyout and a double play to end the inning.

"He worked fast, changed speeds and threw strikes," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

After a strong start to his rookie campaign, Grimm has given up 19 runs in his last three starts. While he gave up seven earned runs on Friday, he still pitched into the eighth inning to spell an overworked Ranger bullpen.

The Rangers have gone 13 straight games with less than 10 hits, the worst stretch of offense since the beginning of the 1988 season.

The Rangers now have lost four straight -- their longest skid of the season. During this streak, they have grounded into nine double plays and struck out 25 times. They're hitting a meager 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

On Friday, the last five hitters in the Rangers lineup combined to go 0-for-14.

"I wish I had the formula, but when we're in a funk, we're just going to have to battle our way out of it," Washington said. "It's just a matter of time."

Toronto, meanwhile, is now 18-17 since going 10-17 in April when shortstop Jose Reyes and starting pitcher Josh Johnson went down with injuries.

NOTES: Friday's game only lasted two hours, eight minutes. It was the shortest game in Arlington since 2011. ... With his two doubles, Encarnacion is now hitting .336 with 30 RBIs in his last 28 games. ... Toronto's Adam Lind has 11 multi-hit games in his last 17 starts. He's now reached base in 34 of his last 41 games, over which span he's hitting .373 with 18 extra-base hits. ... The Rangers entered the game averaging just three runs a game in June, ahead of only Houston and Seattle. Their starters are not getting much offensive support, only 2.23 runs per game, the worst mark in the majors. ... Arencibia's home run was the sixth of his career at Rangers Ballpark, the most he's hit in any opposing ballpark. ... Elvis Andrus was ejected from the game in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes.
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