ARLINGTON, Texas - Esmil Rogers could sure get used to this starting thing.
In just his third start of the season, Rogers matched Yu Darvish inning for inning and benefited from a late Edwin Encarnacion RBI double as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Texas 3-1 on Thursday night, handing the Rangers their third straight home loss.
Rogers allowed one run on a solo homer and gave up five hits in seven innings to keep pace with the AL strikeout leader in his home park. Although he only notched one strikeout, Rogers used his sinker effectively and extended the Rangers' June swoon.
After using Rogers as a reliever at the beginning the season, the Blue Jays started to stretch him out to start on May 29 to help alleviate the Blue Jays' season-long rotation woes. By allowing only two runs in 14 1/3 as a starter, it's safe to say he's taking advantage of the opportunity.
"I'm just trying to do my best," Rogers said. "When they give [the start] to me, I'm going to take it and do my best with it."
He got the win with a little help as soon as both his and Darvish's nights were done. Encarnacion belted a two-run double that proved to be the game-winner. Casey Janssen threw a clean ninth inning to record his 14th save of the season.
For the fourth straight start, Darvish gave himself a chance to earn his eighth win of the season by delivering seven quality innings. And for the fourth straight start, Darvish took a no-decision.
"My job is to contribute as much as I can to the team," Darvish said. " I just have to keep doing what I've been doing and pitch my game."
Darvish struck out nine hitters in seven innings to give him 127 for the season. He kept the Blue Jays at bay for most of the evening and battled through one of his usual slow starts. After a Maicer Izturis double in the fourth inning, Darvish retired the next 10 hitters. Despite sitting at 86 pitches after five innings, Darvish only needed 24 to get through his last two innings.
"He did his job," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He did what he had to do to make certain we were in the ballgame."
But as soon as Darvish left the game, the Blue Jays made their move. Emilio Bonifacio led off the eighth inning against reliever Neal Cotts by reaching on an uncharacteristic throwing error by Adrian Beltre. Tanner Scheppers replaced Cotts, and Encarnacion drilled a two-out, two-run double into left centerfield that ultimately cost the Rangers the game. It also may have cost the Rangers their centerfielder for a few days.
Leonys Martin injured his left wrist diving while trying to make the play on Encarnacion's ball. Martin was diagnosed with a mild sprain and is listed as day to day.
The Rangers have now dropped three straight games at home and seven of their last 10. They fell to a season-high two games behind Oakland after the Athletics beat the Yankees in 19 innings.
Nelson Cruz gave Texas its first lead in 18 innings when he drilled a 3-2 pitch over the right field wall for a second-inning solo home run, his 16th of the season. He pieced together the Rangers' only multi-hit night with a seventh-inning single.
The Blue Jays didn't stay down long, stringing together a walk and two singles to tie it in the third. Melky Cabrera's single scored Bonifacio.
NOTES: Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will serve as an AL coach under Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland in the All-Star Game. This is the second time he's coached in an All-Star Game, the previous time coming in 2006. ... Toronto signed its third- and fourth-round picks, RHP Patrick Murphy and LHP Evan Smith, respectively. The Jays have signed 16 of the 40 players they drafted last week. ... With a 97-degree temperature at first pitch, Thursday's game was the hottest of the year for the Rangers. ... Rangers prospect Joey Gallo wrapped up a memorable three-day stretch in which he hit six home runs in five games over three days to take the minor league lead in home runs with 20. The 19-year-old third baseman is playing for Class A Hickory.