TORONTO -- Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan was busy in Saturday's 18-inning loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The problem was that he never got into the game. He merely warmed up every time the Rangers appeared that they might get the lead, which was frequently.
Nathan got his chance Sunday after the Rangers took the lead on home runs by Adrian Beltre and David Murphy. Despite a fretful ninth inning with two Blue Jays in scoring position, he earned his 19th save of the season as the Rangers (37-25) avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays (27-35) with a 6-4 victory.
Nelson Cruz also homered and had an RBI single for the Rangers, who came back from a 4-0 deficit the Blue Jays built in the third, keyed by Adam Lind's three-run homer.
"Joe warmed up every inning after the ninth inning (Saturday) and we all thought he was going to be down today he threw so many pitches," said Beltre, who singled in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 14 games before snapping a 4-4 tie with a seventh-inning homer. "He came back today and looked better than the first week of the season. He was throwing in the mid-90s. He was terrific today. We needed him big time."
"To come back after a tough game yesterday and get a win here is huge," Nathan said. "I told them I didn't feel my best at the beginning of the day. I was definitely good to go. I was actually surprised how good I did feel when I got out there. This is the best I've felt all year. Like I've always said, adrenalin is a great drug."
"We made a run at it late, had a couple of guys in scoring position but couldn't get that hit," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
The Blue Jays had built an early lead in the third inning with four runs, keyed by a three-run homer by Lind, his sixth of the season, and an RBI single by Edwin Encarnacion.
The Rangers tied it and took the lead with two outs in the seventh when Beltre greeted right-handed reliever Neil Wagner (1-1) with his 14th homer of the season on a 1-2 fastball.
Murphy led off the eighth with his eighth homer of the season on a first-pitch fastball from right-hander Dustin McGowan to put the Rangers up by two runs.
Left-handed reliever Neil Cotts (2-0) pitched one inning to pick up the win.
When Nathan's turn came, he walked pinch hitter Maicer Izturis to lead off the ninth and Munenori Kawasaki reached base when shortstop Elvis Andrus was charged with an error. Melky Cabrera sacrificed the runners to second and third. Jose Bautista struck out swinging and was ejected after arguing with plate umpire Gary Darling and threw his helmet after Gibbons interceded. Encarnacion popped up to end the game.
Gibbons said the problem resulted from the first-pitch strike call to Bautista. "He thought the pitch was down," the manager said.
Bautista did not talk after the game.
Blue Jays right-hander Josh Johnson, who was making his second start since being put on the disabled list, needed 109 pitches to go five innings. He allowed three runs on four walks and five hits, including Cruz's homer.
He developed a blister on the middle finger of his right hand but said it did not affect his pitching.
"I don't think so," Johnson said. "I felt it in the third inning a little bit. I'm not going to make excuses and make that the reason why I was throwing balls and walking people. I've still got to make pitches and get outs.
"I was kind of all over the place. I wish I could narrow it down and just get rid of that and kind of move on and be able to throw the ball anywhere I want with my fastball anytime, any location. It seems like that will come and go."
Texas right-hander Justin Grimm allowed four runs on five hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings and was not involved in the decision.
The Rangers scored twice in the fourth. Cruz hit his 15th homer of the season with two outs on a 2-2 fastball. Murphy walked and scored on a double by Chris McGuiness, his first major-league hit.
The Rangers cut the lead to 4-3 in the fifth on Cruz's RBI single. It scored A.J. Pierzynski, who doubled with two outs and took third on Beltre's infield single.
The Rangers tied the game against left-hander Juan Perez in the sixth on a throwing error by catcher Josh Thole on a stolen base by Craig Gentry, who had singled as a pinch hitter, with Leury Garcia scoring from third.
NOTES: Texas put RHP Alexi Ogando (shoulder inflammation) on the 15-day disabled list. His start on Monday will be taken by RHP Josh Lindblom, who has been recalled from Class-AAA Round Rock. ... Toronto recalled RHP Thad Weber from Class-AAA Buffalo on Sunday to replace RHP Brad Lincoln, who was returned to Buffalo on option after he pitched four innings on Saturday. Weber pitched the ninth Sunday and was returned to Buffalo to make room for LHP Darren Oliver (strained shoulder), who will come off the disabled list on Monday. ... Texas put LHP Michael Kirkman on the 15-day DL with a recurrence of his cutaneous lymphoma. RHP Kyle McClellan was promoted from Round Rock. ... Toronto will start RHP R.A. Dickey (5-7, 4.66 ERA) Monday at Chicago in the opener of a three-game series against the White Sox, who will start RHP Dylan Axelrod (3-4, 3.73 ERA). ... The Rangers are home Monday to face the Cleveland Indians, who will start LHP Scott Kazmir (3-3, 5.24 ERA) against Lindblom (0-1, 7.71 ERA).