(Sports Network) – Jose Bautista hit an inside-the-park homer and scored the go-ahead run on Vernon Wells’ double in the seventh inning, as Toronto outlasted Minnesota, 6-5, in a roller-coaster affair at Rogers Centre.
Alex Gonzalez added a solo home run and tacked on a sacrifice fly for the Blue Jays, who had lost eight of nine coming in.
Scott Downs (3-5) was credited with the win in relief of starter Marc Rzepczynski, who yielded four runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out seven in 5 2/3 innings in his 2010 debut.
Orlando Hudson went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI, and Delmon Young added a solo blast for the Twins, who won the opener of this three game series on Tuesday, 7-6.
Minnesota’s Kevin Slowey took a no-decision after giving up five runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 frames.
With the score tied, 4-4, Denard Span singled off Shawn Camp with two away in the seventh and raced around to score when Hudson sent a ball to the right- field corner for a triple.
Fred Lewis answered with his own three-bagger with one out in the bottom half, ending Slowey’s night. Matt Guerrier (1-5) got Gonzalez to fly out to center, but Lewis easily sped in with the tying run.
Bautista worked a walk, and fellow All-Star Wells, mired in an 0-for-21 slump, doubled high off the wall in center to plate the go-ahead tally.
Downs, who stranded Hudson in the seventh by getting Joe Mauer on a flyout, pitched a scoreless eighth before Kevin Gregg turned in a 1-2-3 ninth to record his 19th save of the season.
Gonzalez got just enough of a Slowey breaking ball in the first inning to notch his 16th home run of the year.
The 1-0 lead stood until the fourth, when Span singled and Hudson golfed one down the left-field line and over the fence to begin the back-and-forth scoring.
John Buck doubled in the bottom half and came around to score on Edwin Encarnacion’s bloop hit to right. The Twins got the lead back in their next at-bat thanks to Young’s solo shot to left.
With two outs and John McDonald on first in Toronto’s turn, Bautista laced a liner to the left-field gap that got between Span and Young, with the latter’s slide for the ball taking out the former. The ball rolled to the wall and Span’s relay throw was not nearly in enough time to get the hustling Bautista at the plate. It was Bautista’s 22nd home run of the season.
Minnesota responded by loading the bases with one out, and Mauer scored to make it 4-4 on Jason Kubel’s sacrifice fly.
Rzepczynski, who went 2-4 with a 3.67 earned-run average in 11 starts last season as a rookie, was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas last week to take the rotation spot of the injured Shaun Marcum (elbow)…Bautista’s homer was Toronto’s first inside-the-parker since Greg Myers accomplished the feat on September 13, 2003…Bautista reached base in all four plate-appearances, going 2-for-2 with a pair of walks…Span and Justin Morneau each had two hits for the Twins.
Morneau owns five home runs and 13 RBI in his last 15 games and went deep again in last night's 7-6 victory over the Jays in the series opener. Morneau will start in next week's All-Star Game along with teammate Joe Mauer, who also homered in Tuesday's close win. Mauer will start at catcher.
Jason Kubel hit a solo homer and scored twice, while Denard Span's RBI single in the eighth proved to be the difference for Minnesota, which won for just the second time in five tries and still sits a half-game behind Detroit for the top spot in the AL Central. The Twins also got their six-game road trip against the Jays and Tigers off to a good start.
"It was very important coming in on the road. We had a tough road trip last time, and it's nice to start off game one with a win," said Minnesota's Delmon Young, who is battling with a few other players for the final spot on the AL All-Star team.
Twins starter Carl Pavano was roughed up in the no-decision, permitting six runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Jose Mijares grabbed the win for getting two outs in the seventh and Jon Rauch later recorded his 19th save.
Kevin Slowey will handle pitching duties for Minnesota tonight and is 4-2 in his last six decisions. Slowey threw six innings of one-run ball in last Wednesday's 5-1 win over Detroit, improving to 8-5 in 16 starts to go along with a 4.57 ERA this season.
Slowey, a righty, recently beat Toronto on May 17 at Rogers Centre, where he lasted five innings and gave up three runs and eight hits in his team's 8-3 triumph. He is 1-2 with a 6.08 ERA in five career starts in this series.
Toronto has dropped three in a row and eight of its last nine games, including Tuesday's close loss to the Twins.Edwin Encarnacion went 3-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored and an RBI, Dewayne Wise belted a two-run homer during a four-run fifth inning and Lyle Overbay contributed a solo blast of his own in the fifth frame.
Blue Jays starter Jesse Litsch yielded five runs, seven hits and two walks in 5 1/3 frames for the no-decision.Jason Frasor was saddled with the loss for giving up the Twins' seventh run in the eighth inning.
"Jesse pitched okay. He struggled in the sixth inning or so," said Jays manager Cito Gaston. "We scored six runs tonight -- that's enough runs to win a ball game. We just couldn't hold it."
Gaston hopes Marc Rzepczynski can reverse the club's fortunes when he toes the rubber tonight for the Blue Jays in his 2010 debut. The left-hander, who went 2-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 11 starts last season as a rookie, didn't face Minnesota in his debut season last year.
Rzepczynski was 4-3 with a 6.66 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Las Vegas.
Minnesota and Toronto split a two-game set back on May 17-18 at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays have won 15 of the past 20 matchups between the teams.