(Sports Network) – Edwin Encarnacion’s three-run homer capped a four-run eighth inning that carried Toronto past Minnesota, 6-3, in the continuation of a season-ending four-game set.
Ricky Romero (14-9) was sharp through eight innings, giving up two runs on six hits without walking a batter and striking out five to earn the win for the Blue Jays, who have taken the first two games of the series and eight of their last nine.
Encarnacion finished 3-for-4 with four RBI while John Buck and Lyle Overbay each had three hits for Toronto, which leads the season series, 5-2.
Jesse Crain (1-1) suffered the loss after allowing the decisive runs for the Twins, who are skidding toward the post-season by losing seven of their last eight.
Carl Pavano left in a 2-2 game after seven innings during which he allowed one earned run on nine hits and a walk while striking out three.
“I got myself into some trouble and I got myself out of some trouble against a lineup that has been putting up some big numbers with people on base,” Pavano said. “It’s unfortunate that we lost the ballgame because it was a good game.”
Crain took over and walked Vernon Wells to start the eighth. Overbay followed with a single and after setting down the next two hitters, Crain could not get out of the frame unscathed.
Buck laced a line drive single to left that plated Wells to give the Jays their first lead. Encarnacion followed with his long ball, his third in two games, that just cleared the wall in left to give Toronto a four-run cushion.
“We’re very pleased,” said Toronto skipper Cito Gaston when asked to reflect on the season. “I don’t think anybody expected us to win this many games. The way the kids have pitched and the way the guys have hit a lot of home runs, we pretty much live and die by the home run, it has been a good season for us.”
Down to their last out, the Twins got a home run from Trevor Plouffe, the second of his big league career, to make it a 6-3 game.
Michael Cuddyer followed with a double and moved to third on a Jason Kubel base hit that chased Jason Frasor from the hill.
Kevin Gregg came on and put an end to the rally by getting Danny Valencia to pop up to earn his 37th save.
Delmon Young led off the home second with a home run to left-center field to give the hosts the early advantage.
With one out in the fourth, Jose Bautista singled and moved to third on Wells’ ground-rule double, but didn’t score after Overbay tapped back to the mound and Aaron Hill grounded out to end the frame.
The Jays, though, did score in the fifth on an Encarnacion base hit that plated Adam Lind, who had led off with a double.
Minnesota regained the lead in the sixth on a Joe Mauer single that scored Denard Span, but the Jays answered in the next half inning with a run on a Yunel Escobar double play grounder that brought Buck home to tie the game.
The Blue Jays have taken the season series from the Twins in each of the last five years…Encarnacion’s home run was the Jays’ 254th of the season, three shy of the 1996 Baltimore Orioles for third most all-time…Romero became the first Toronto left-hander to top 203 innings pitched since David Wells in 2000…Travis Snider went 0-for-5 for the Jays and lost a 12-game hit streak…11 of Lind’s last 19 hits have been for extra bases…Former Twins second baseman and Hall of Famer Rod Carew celebrated his 65th birthday on Friday.