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Jays use big inning to blow out Twins

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- A monster sixth inning from the Toronto Blue Jays lifted them to a 9-3 win against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday at Target Field.

Through five innings, Toronto could get nothing going against Twins starting pitcher Phil Hughes, who breezed through on 74 pitches, notching seven strikeouts.

But the Jays started the sixth with five straight hits -- four off Hughes -- kick-starting the game-winning rally.

A leadoff double to second baseman Munenori Kawasaki got the inning started before consecutive singles to center fielder Jose Bautista, designated hitter Adam Lind and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion ended Hughes' night. All four came around to score as Hughes allowed eight hits and a walk over five-plus innings.

Jays catcher Dioner Navarro singled off Twins reliever Michael Tonkin to make it five straight hits to start the inning before a sacrifice groundout by right fielder Moises Sierra gave Toronto its first lead, 3-2.

Third baseman Brett Lawrie's sacrifice fly to center scored a run, and Navarro came across to score after Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki's attempt to throw him out at third sailed into left field.

"It just took a little bit to get used to (Hughes)," Lawrie said. "We didn't take (batting practice) today. We rolled into town, hit in the cages and just rolled right out into the game. Once we got a couple of hits, it just started snowballing."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "You've got to figure out how to stop the bleeding. I know that. Make a pitch and get through those things. He sure wasn't able to do it there in that (sixth) inning. It's too bad, because another good outing and he ends up leaving like that."

Lawrie added a grand slam in the top of the ninth to make it a 9-2 game after Twins reliever Jared Burton loaded the bases with three straight two-out walks. Lawrie hammered a 1-2 fastball off the facing of the second deck in left for his third homer of the season and second career slam. He finished with five RBIs.

"We have a good-hitting team," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "Hughes was tough on us early, but we got that one inning where we were able to break it open. Our bullpen, we needed them to pitch and they all did a great job."

The Twins took the early lead, scoring a run in each of the first two innings. Right fielder Chris Colabello had a career-high three hits, including an RBI double off the wall in right in the first inning. First baseman Joe Mauer's RBI single to left made it 2-0 in the second. Minnesota's only other run came on a solo home run by third baseman Trevor Plouffe with one out in the ninth.

The rocky sixth inning was a tough break for Hughes, who looked poised to post his first quality start for the Twins after signing a three-year, $24 million contract with the team last winter. He's struggled through three starts, but lost his first decision Tuesday. It also snapped a streak of three straight quality starts by Twins starting pitchers.

"The middle of that order seems like it's been the same for a while now," Hughes said. "We've had lot of at-bats against each other. Certainly lots of sequences and things, so you've got to switch it up. Trying to make pitches late in the game is what it's all about. For whatever reason, I just couldn't do it.

"So far, three starts, three bad innings."

Jays starter Brandon Morrow lasted only 3 2/3 innings, allowing four hits on four walks and four strikeouts and throwing 98 pitches. Reliever Aaron Loup got his first win of the season, tossing 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Bautista led the Jays with three hits, his first three-hit game of the season. Kawasaki had two hits in his first game with Toronto this year after beginning the season with Triple-A Buffalo. He was added to the 40-man roster earlier Tuesday after second baseman Maicer Izturis was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a torn lateral collateral ligament in his left knee.

NOTES: Blue Jays OF Melky Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 14 games with his leadoff single. He has now hit in every game this season. ... Twins SS Pedro Florimon's triple in the second inning was his first of the season and first since Sept. 10, 2012. ... Twins 2B Brian Dozier walked in each of his first two plate appearances Tuesday and is now fifth in the American League with 11 walks this season. His 14 runs scored are tied for the AL lead. ... Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie hammered a grand slam off the facing of the second deck in left field in the top of the ninth inning. It was his second career grand slam and first since Aug. 10, 2011. ... Twins RF Chris Colabello went 3-for-5 Tuesday. The three hits were a career high. ... Blue Jays designated hitter Adam Lind was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the seventh inning due to lower-back tightness. He is day-to-day.
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