TORONTO – Wins continue to elude Drew Hutchison.
Hank Conger homered and drove in a career-high five runs to power the Los Angeles Angels to a 9-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon. Hutchison (1-3) gave up three runs and four walks over just 4 1/3 innings to extend his winless streak to seven starts.
“You can’t walk four guys,” Hutchison said afterwards.
Unfortunately, rookie reliever Marcus Stroman also struggled. He was pounded for four runs over 1 2/3 innings after replacing Hutchison as Los Angeles earned its third straight win. Toronto came into this four-game series riding a season-high, five-game win streak.
“That’s the way it goes in this business sometimes,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “You think everything is going in the right direction, then all of a sudden, wham, you run into some pretty good pitching and a good offence.
“They’re just out-playing us. But, a well-pitched game can cure all that.”
Toronto (18-20) will send ace Mark Buehrle (6-1, 1.91 earned-run average) to the mound in the series finale Monday night. The Angels (19-17) will counter with left-hander C.J. Wilson (4-2, 3.21 ERA).
On Sunday, Los Angeles feasted on Toronto pitching, with Conger registering three hits before a Rogers Centre gathering of 20,871.
But it was a two-out walk to Howie Kendrick in the fourth that was the start of Hutchison’s undoing. It was followed by two doubles— L.A.’s first hits of the day — as the Angels scored twice for a 2-1 advantage and stayed ahead the rest of the way.
“I was ahead and I didn’t put him away,” Hutchison said of Kendrick’s at-bat. “It was not a good job on my part.”
The Angels ended Hutchison’s afternoon in the fifth. Collin Cowgill, the No. 9 hitter, led off with a walk and went to third on a sharp single by Erick Aybar. That chased Hutchison and Cowgill scored on Mike Trout’s double off Stroman.
L.A. blew it open in the sixth, sending eight men to the plate and scoring four runs off Stroman for a 7-1 lead. The big blast came from Conger, who belted a 93 mile-per-hour fastball over the right centre-field wall for a three-run shot.
Meanwhile, Angels’ veteran right-hander Jered Weaver (4-2) surrendered a run in the first but nothing more over 6-1/3 innings to win his fourth straight decision.
“Jered did a good job mixing his pitches up,” said Toronto second baseman Steve Tolleson. “He never really threw the same pitch two times in a row and he would take something off his fast ball, add something to his curve, take something off his changeup.
“He was good out there.”
Toronto threatened in the seventh, loading the bases and chasing Weaver with one out. But right-handed reliever Michael Kohn got Colby Rasmus to pop out behind second before Tolleson struck out looking.
Edwin Encarnacion pulled Toronto to within 7-3 with a two-run double in the eighth but L.A. countered with two in the ninth.
Toronto slugger Jose Bautista entered Sunday’s game having reached base safely in all 37 games this season to lead the majors. But that club record was snapped Sunday as Bautista went 0 for 4 with an RBI.
Toronto opened the scoring in the first.
Jose Reyes led off with a sharp single to left, then stole second on the next pitch. With one out, Reyes got a great jump off Weaver as Bautista cued one off the end of his bat to second. As Kendrick scooped up the ground ball and tossed it to first, Reyes broke from third and slid head-first ahead of first baseman Albert Pujols’ throw.
L.A. took the lead in the fourth, combining a walk and their first two hits of the day, all with two out.
Efren Navarro doubled into the left-field corner to score Kendrick, who walked, stole second and advanced to third on catcher Dioner Navarro’s throwing error. One pitch later, Conger doubled to bring in Navarro with the go-ahead run.
After the game when Gibbons said reliever Sergio Santos was headed to the 15-day disabled list with forearm stiffness. The Jays will announce Monday who’ll take his spot on the roster.
NOTES — Toronto closer Casey Janssen (left abdominal/lower back strain) returned from the 15-day disabled list prior to Sunday’s game. To make room on the 25-man roster, infielder Chris Getz was designated for assignment . . . Tolleson, who signed as a free agent this off-season, came into Sunday’s game batting .429 with all six of his hits with Toronto having gone for extra bases — four doubles, two triples. That made him the first player since Chris Dickerson with Cincinnati in ’08 to do that with his new team.