While the Toronto Blue Jays have struggled to consistently stay above .500 this season, it's still a challenge for the improved Kansas City Royals to reach that mark.
The Blue Jays look to remain above .500 with a second straight victory over the Royals as this four-game set continues Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.
Coming off back-to-back losses, Toronto (41-40) overcame an early three-run deficit by scoring all its runs in the fourth inning of a 6-3 win over Kansas City on Tuesday."They put a six spot up and that kind of takes the wind out of you," said Kansas City slugger Billy Butler , who is 0 for 21 versus Toronto this season.
The victory was the third in eight games for the Blue Jays, who are last in the competitive AL East and have not been more than five games over .500 this season.
Adam Lind went 2 for 4 and hit a three-run homer to highlight Toronto's big inning Tuesday. It was a much-needed night of production for Lind, who is batting .197 during a difficult season in which he was demoted to the minors in May.
Though Lind has four hits in his last 16 at-bats, he's homered three times and driven in seven runs during that stretch.
He's 2 for 5 with a double versus scheduled Kansas City starter Luis Mendoza (3-4, 4.50 ERA), who hopes to build on his best outing of the season.
The right-hander allowed a run and five hits in eight innings of a 4-3 victory at Minnesota on Friday to improve to 1-1 with a 2.96 ERA in four starts since returning to the rotation.
"He's throwing strikes, he's not really hurting himself walking guys," manager Ned Yost told the Royals' official website.
Mendoza, 1-1 with a 5.28 ERA in three starts versus Toronto, allowed four runs and 10 hits in 3 1-3 innings against the visiting Blue Jays on April 21.
The first four hitters in the lineup went 0 for 14 with five strikeouts Tuesday for Kansas City (36-43), which has lost four of five since getting within four games of .500 by winning four in a row. Yost's team hasn't been above the break-even point since it was 3-2 on April 10.
Salvador Perez had one of the six hits for the Royals, who pounded out 14 in Monday's 11-3 victory to end a three-game skid. The catcher is 12 for 32 (.375) with three homers and seven RBIs in his first nine games since making his season debut June 22 after recovering from a knee injury.
The Royals hope to bounce back against converted Toronto reliever Carlos Villanueva (2-0, 3.52), who makes his second start of the season.
After making 22 appearances out of the bullpen, the right-hander gave up three runs and struck out six in five innings while not factoring in a 7-5 win over the Angels on Friday.
"I felt fine in the end," Villanueva told the Blue Jays' official website.
In his only start against the Royals, Villanueva allowed four runs in seven innings of a 9-8 victory June 8, 2011.
|Kansas City Royals|
|June 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Lateral strain in lower left leg|
|June 17, 2012||Chris Getz||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left lateral leg strain|
|June 07, 2012||Felipe Paulino||15-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|May 26, 2012||Jarrod Dyson||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right hamstring injury|
|May 22, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Left ribcage contusion|
|May 22, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Left ribcage contusion|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|June 16, 2012||Drew Hutchison||60-Day DL||Right UCL sprain|
|June 14, 2012||Kyle Drabek||15-Day DL||Sprained right elbow ligament|
|June 14, 2012||Kyle Drabek||60-Day DL||Torn right elbow ligament|
|June 13, 2012||Brandon Morrow||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|June 12, 2012||Brandon Morrow||Day-to-Day||Strained left oblique|
|June 07, 2012||Rajai Davis||Day-to-Day||Jammed left middle finger|
TORONTO (AP) -- When Luis Mendoza couldn't keep his sinker down, the Toronto Blue Jays took advantage.
Carlos Villanueva pitched six shutout innings, Yunel Escobar drove in two runs and the Blue Jays beat the Kansas City Royals 4-1 Wednesday night.
Three of Toronto's four runs came on sacrifice flies, leaving Royals manager Ned Yost frustrated that Mendoza was unable to get ground balls.
"The only thing was he couldn't get the ball down in crucial situations," Yost said. "All three runs came on sac flies on pitches that were up."
Every Blue Jays starter had at least one hit as Toronto won for the fourth time in six games. The Blue Jays are 6-1 against Kansas City this season and have won nine of the past 12 meetings dating to 2011.
Jeff Francoeur 's RBI triple in the seventh provided the only run of the game for the Royals, who have lost five of six.
"You give (Villanueva) credit for doing what he did but our offense just didn't do it today," Kansas City's Alex Gordon said.
Toronto opened the scoring in the second when Rajai Davis tripled and scored on Kelly Johnson 's sacrifice fly.
The Blue Jays added two more in the third. Edwin Encarnacion led off with a ground ball to second and was safe when Mendoza and Eric Hosmer got tangled up at first, with Mendoza catching the throw by failing to step on the base.
"I was kind of late getting over to the bag," Hosmer said. "Me and Mendy kind of called it at the same time. I think I just broke too late and probably should have let Mendy take care of that right there."
Yost saw it differently from the dugout.
"Mendoza has got to get out of the way," Yost said. "I could hear (Hosmer) screaming `I got it, I got it,' and if I can hear him, Mendy's just got to put on the brakes as best he can and let Hos take the play."
Adam Lind followed with a double, sending Encarnacion to third, before Escobar and Davis hit back-to-back sacrifice flies.
"We shortened up the infield to try to take advantage of his good two-seamer and keep the ball on the ground and see if we could cut off one or two of those runs," Yost said. "All three of those pitches he got up."
Escobar added an insurance run in the eighth with a two-out RBI single off Kelvin Herrera .
"I thought we did an excellent job of manufacturing some runs," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
Starting for the second time this season after making 22 relief appearances, Villanueva (3-0) allowed just four hits, three of them singles. He walked none and matched a season-high with seven strikeouts.
"Carlos did an outstanding job," Farrell said. "He was efficient. To give us the six innings was obviously a plus."
Jason Frasor replaced Villanueva in the seventh but couldn't keep the shutout bid alive. Moustakas hit a two-out single and scored when Francoeur tripled to left on a ball that skipped past Davis and rolled all the way to the wall.
Darren Oliver pitched the eighth and Casey Janssen finished in the ninth for his 11th save in 12 opportunities.
Coming off a win over Minnesota in his last start, Royals right-hander Luis Mendoza pitched well but was unable to earn consecutive victories for the first time this season. Mendoza (3-5) allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out a career-high nine.
NOTES: Encarnacion extended his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Kansas City recalled RHP Nate Adcock and RHP Louis Coleman from Triple-A Omaha and designated OF Mitch Maier for assignment. ... Toronto optioned RHP Scott Richmond to Triple-A Las Vegas following the game and will promote another pitcher Thursday. ... Jamie Moyer allowed seven runs and 10 hits in six innings in his second start at Las Vegas on Tuesday, taking the loss in a 7-3 defeat to Reno. Blue Jays manager John Farrell said no decision has been made on the 49-year-old left-hander's future with Toronto. ... Lind moved up to fifth in Toronto's batting order, with Johnson dropping to the eighth spot. ... Kansas City DH Billy Butler went 0 for 3 with a walk. Butler is 0 for 23 against Toronto pitching this season.