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Wagner gets first win as Blue Jays beat Rangers

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- Neil Wagner said he started to realize his first major-league win might be coming as he sat on the bench and the Toronto Blue Jays began to score.

The 29-year-old right-handed reliever had entered a 1-1 game with two out in the sixth, striking out Adrian Beltre who in the first inning extended his hitting streak to 12 games.

Then Wagner watched as a two-run double by Edwin Encarnacion keyed a four-run sixth inning to break a tie and start the Blue Jays on their way to a 6-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday.

"Mostly just sitting on the bench realizing that I hadn't had one before and that I might actually steal one here," Wagner said when asked what was going through his mind as a victory became apparent.

"Striking out Beltre was nice as well," said Wagner (1-0) who was making his fifth appearance since being called up from Triple-A Buffalo on May 29.

"He deserved a shot, he was pitching so well in Buffalo," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It's kind of a great story. He's been hanging around the minor leagues. We really liked his arm in spring training. He's more of a pitcher than we saw in spring training and he's got that great arm. I'm happy for him."

Wagner used his time at Buffalo wisely, developing a simple strategy to be successful.

"I've just being throwing a lot of strikes," Wagner said. "And that's kind of been reinforced by my time in Buffalo where I went down there and repeatedly pounded the strike zone and used my secondary stuff. It's been big in coming back up."

Melky Cabrera hit a homer to lead off the fourth inning to tie the game 1-1 against Rangers right-hander Nick Tepesch (3-5).

Tepesch allowed five hits, two walks and six runs while striking out six in seven innings before a crowd of 36,010 at Rogers Centre.

"He was good, except for that sixth inning," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It happened fast. They jumped on everything quick. For five innings there he was moving his ball around and keeping it down, staying off the fat part of the zone. That one inning they just got him."

Tepesch praised the Blue Jays.

"I thought they were pretty decent pitches," Tepesch said. "They just came out ambushing. They're good hitters."

The opener of a three-game series was the second win in a row for the Blue Jays (26-34) and the second consecutive loss for the Rangers (36-24) who lost two of three games to the Boston Red Sox this week at Fenway Park.

Blue Jays' right-hander Esmil Rogers did not factor in the decision in his second start after beginning the season in the bullpen. He held the Rangers to three hits and one run in four innings and struck out six.

"I threw a lot of sliders," Rogers said. "I have a lot of confidence in my slider and I can throw it any count, 3-2, 2-1, 2-0. That's what I tried to do."

Gibbons said Rogers was "pretty darn good" and then turned the game over to the bullpen, which had a good rest and needed some game action.

"It kind of looked like a spring training game. We saw like five different pitchers and two of the guys were new faces," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "It's always going to be kind of hard to try to get a feeling or try to get comfortable when you haven't faced a guy.

Munenori Kawasaki was hit by a pitch to lead off the Blue Jays' sixth. Cabrera singled and Jose Bautista walked to load the bases. Encarnacion doubled to left-center to score two runs. Adam Lind and J.P. Arencibia each hit sacrifice flies.

That was enough to make a winner of Wagner who replaced left-hander Aaron Loup with two out in the top of the sixth. Wagner allowed one hit and struck out one in 1 1/3 innings.

The Blue Jays increased their lead to 6-1 in the seventh after a two-out single by Kawasaki, who scored from first when Cabrera singled on a 3-2 count. Cabrera was trapped between first and second to end the inning.

Left-hander Brett Cecil pitched the eighth and right-hander Steve Delabar the ninth for Toronto.

Notes: Before the game, the Blue Jays recalled catcher Josh Thole from Triple-A Buffalo and purchased the contract of infielder Andy LaRoche from Buffalo. Outfielder Anthony Gose was returned to Buffalo and catcher Henry Blanco was designated for assignment. ... Rangers' first baseman Chris McGuiness, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday, made his major-league debut in Friday's game. ... With the series being played on artificial turf, Beltre is scheduled to be used as DH to protect his legs. ... Rangers' right fielder Nelson Cruz, who has had some hamstring issues, did not start on Friday to give him a rest but is expected to be back in the lineup on Saturday and Sunday. ... Yu Darvish (7-2, 2.77 earned-run average) will start for the Rangers on Saturday against Mark Buehrle (2-4, 5.42 ERA). ... After the game the Blue Jays called up right-handed pitcher Dustin McGowan from Buffalo and demoted right-handed pitcher Todd Redmond.
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