TORONTO – Melky Cabrera answered a Texas comeback with a solo homer in the seventh inning and singled home two more runs in the eighth to give the Toronto Blue Jays a wild 9-6 win over the Rangers on Sunday afternoon.
Cabrera gave the Jays a 6-5 lead when he sent reliever Neftali Feliz’s third pitch of the day deep to centre field to open the home half of the seventh. It was the left-fielder’s 12th home run of the season, delighting the crowd of 36,011 on a 23-degree day with the roof open and then closed at Rogers Centre.
One inning later, Munenori Kawasaki made it 7-5 with an RBI single after Toronto loaded the bases with one out on three singles. Then Cabrera slammed a single to right-centre to bring home Anthony Gose and Jose Reyes.
Left-hander Brett Cecil, coming on in the eight with no outs and a man on second, snuffed out a Rangers threat.
Closer Casey Janssen, recovered from a stomach ailment, gave up three hits and a run in a nervous ninth and was replaced by Aaron Loup with two outs and men on first and second. The left-hander finally ended it by inducing former Jay J.P. Arencibia to pop out on a 3-and-2 pitch for his fourth save.
Toronto outhit Texas 15-12.
Jays starter Mark Buehrle went six innings in his eighth unsuccessful attempt to record a win since June 1.
Todd Redmond (1-4) got the win while Feliz (0-1) was tagged with the loss.
Toronto (51-49) has won seven of the last eight completed series against Texas (39-59) at Rogers Centre.
Down 5-2, the Rangers had rallied for three runs in the sixth to tie the score as the bottom of the order loaded the bases. A Buehrle balk, that saw the pitcher literally fall off the mound as he lost his footing throwing, and a Daniel Robertson two-RBI single made it a whole new ball game.
Robertson, filling in for the injured Alex Rios, drove in four of Texas’ five runs.
Earlier, catcher Dioner Navarro homered for Toronto and Reyes drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in a game that saw both teams with plenty of chances to keep the scoreboard turning over.
It was a no-decision for Buehrle, who has posted an 0-5 record in his last eight outings to drop his record to 10-6. And this after reaching the 10-win mark faster than ever before in his career.
He gave up five runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and three walks in his 449th consecutive start, the longest active streak in the majors.
The left-hander, who came into the game with a 13-5 record in 20 career starts against the Rangers, made life difficult for himself in the second, third and fourth by putting the leadoff man on with two walks and a single.
But, two runs aside in the third, he cleaned up after himself until stepping into it again in the sixth.
Despite winning the series opener 5-1 Friday, the Rangers have been in a free fall for a while. They came into the game having lost nine of 10 and are now 2-14 in July, the fewest wins for any team in the majors.
However you stack them, the numbers are shocking. Texas has lost 16 of 18 and 24 of 28.
One explanation: Texas has used more players (51) and pitchers (30) than any other team this season. And the Rangers lead the majors in use of the disabled list (21) and current players on the DL (14). That explains the 15 rookies on the active roster.
Texas starter Nick Tepesch was coming off eight days rest for the third time in his last four starts, during which he went 1-3. He lasted 4 1/3 innings Sunday, giving up five runs on nine hits.
Buehrle faced the minimum six batters in the first two innings, using a slick pickoff move to remove Chris Gimenez after walking the first baseman.
Navarro opened the second with his sixth homer of the season, driving a 2-2 pitch into right-centre to give Toronto a 1-0 lead. One out later, Dan Johnson doubled, Steve Tolleson was hit by a pitch and Gose singled to load the bases. Reyes singled home two runs and then stole a base before being doubled off second on a Kawasaki lineout.
Texas responded in the third, putting men on second and third with no outs thanks to a single, walk and sacrifice bunt. Robertson then singled home both men with Adam Rosales beating Gose’s throw from right field to cut the lead to 3-2.
A Johnson error on an Elvis Andrus ground ball made matters worse but Buehrle put a lid on the inning with consecutive strikeouts.
A Jose Bautista walk and opposite field double by Navarro was followed by a Colby Rasmus RBI single for a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the third.
Tepesch bounced back with a 1-2-3 fourth but exited with one out in the fifth and the bases loaded from a Cabrera single, Bautista double and Rasmus walk. Right-hander Shawn Tolleson, no relation to the Jays’ Tolleson, came on and gave up a sacrifice fly to Johnson that scored Cabrera to make it 5-2.
Shawn then struck out Steve in a battle of Tollesons to end the threat.
The Rangers, helped by a successful video challenge, had men on first and second in the sixth before Cabrera made a beautiful catch in left field to deny Rosales. Rougned Odor singled to load the bases with two outs.
Buehrle’s balk brought home Geovany Soto and Robertson singled home two more.
The Jays open a four-game homestand against the Boston Red Sox on Monday.
© The Canadian Press, 2014