After a rough first game following the All-Star break, the Toronto Blue Jays showed they still have a lot of pop in their lineup.
Right-hander Carlos Villanueva is trying to show he belongs in the rotation.
Villanueva makes his third start of the season Sunday when Toronto concludes its season series with the Cleveland Indians .
Held to five singles by Justin Masterson while getting shut out at home for the first time this season in Friday's 1-0 loss, the Blue Jays (44-44) pounded out 13 hits in Saturday's 11-9 victory.
Toronto goes for its first series victory since June 22-24 in Miami with Villanueva (3-0, 3.05 ERA) facing the Indians (45-42) for the third time this season. He threw 3 1-3 innings of scoreless relief in two appearances at Cleveland in April.
Villanueva, though, has made his last two appearances as a starter, striking out 13 and walking one in 11 innings while going 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA. He's confident he can keep delivering after elbow problems plagued him last season when he was inserted into the rotation.
"The fact that I prepared my body and my mind (in the offseason) for the long haul this year definitely makes a difference," Villanueva told the Blue Jays' official website after striking out a career high-tying seven in a 4-1 win over Kansas City on July 4. "I know it has only been two starts but I felt magnificent today."
Villanueva might need some of his best stuff against Indians center fielder Michael Brantley , who is batting .447 (21 for 47) with three homers and 10 RBIs during a 12-game hitting streak. Brantley recorded his third consecutive three-hit game Saturday with a two-run homer during Cleveland's five-run eighth inning."The guys battled and had some good at-bats late in the game," manager Manny Acta said after his team's three-game road winning streak ended. "Unfortunately, pitching is the name of the game and we just didn't pitch."
Sunday's scheduled starter Derek Lowe (8-6, 4.43) threw six innings of three-run ball in a 12-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on July 4, but the sinkerballer is 2-4 with a 7.53 ERA in his last eight starts.
Lowe has been awful away from Progressive Field during this stretch, going 0-4 with an 8.88 ERA in five starts.
"Obviously, the road has been a struggle," the right-hander told the Indians' official website.
Lowe, who has one of the highest run-support averages in the majors at 6.46, allowed two unearned runs over seven innings in a 4-3 home win over Toronto on April 8 to help Cleveland salvage the finale of that three-game series.
Lind is 2 for 9 versus Lowe, while Encarnacion has two hits - a homer and a double - in 12 at-bats.
|June 30, 2012||Lonnie Chisenhall||15-Day DL||Fractured right ulna - out 4-6 weeks|
|June 29, 2012||Lonnie Chisenhall||Day-to-Day||Fractured right ulna - out 4-6 weeks|
|June 05, 2012||Jose Lopez||Day-to-Day||Sore lower back|
|May 27, 2012||Jack Hannahan||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|May 27, 2012||Jack Hannahan||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|May 26, 2012||Carlos Santana||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|July 09, 2012||Luis Perez||Day-to-Day||Torn ligament in left elbow|
|July 09, 2012||Luis Perez||60-Day DL||Torn ligament in left elbow|
|July 07, 2012||Brett Lawrie||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|June 25, 2012||Robert Coello||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|June 16, 2012||Drew Hutchison||60-Day DL||Right UCL sprain|
|June 14, 2012||Kyle Drabek||15-Day DL||Sprained right elbow ligament|
TORONTO (AP) -- No matter what he tries, Cleveland's Derek Lowe can't seem to find success when pitching away from home.
Carlos Villanueva struck out a career-best eight in six scoreless innings, Jose Bautista had two hits and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Lowe and the Indians 3-0 Sunday.
Lowe came in 0-4 with an 8.88 ERA in his past five road starts and, despite pitching better, was unable to snap his losing streak. The right-hander allowed three runs and three hits in six innings, walked four and struck out five.
Struggling with his delivery, Lowe acknowledged that he "invented a lot of stuff" over his final three innings.
"I asked guys on the bench for advice," he said. "I changed mechanically probably 50 times, just trying to find anything. The ball wasn't coming out too good so it was just try to invent stuff to keep yourself in the game."
Lowe (8-7) dropped to 2-6 in his past 10 outings overall and has not won consecutive starts since May 10 and 15, when he picked up back-to-back road wins at Boston and Minnesota.
"(Lowe) pitched well, there's nothing to complain about," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He gave us six solid innings, we just couldn't do anything offensively."
His manager may have been pleased, but Lowe found little to be satisfied with.
"I'm far enough along in my career that wins and losses are the only thing that matters," he said. "I don't take any satisfaction from losing 1-0 and I wouldn't tuck my tail if I won 10-9."
Lowe retired the first six Blue Jays batters in order, but struggled as Toronto batted around in a three-run third.
Kelly Johnson led off with a walk, stole second and went to third on a throwing error by catcher Carlos Santana before scoring on J.P. Arencibia's one-out single. Arencibia advanced on Brett Lawrie 's groundout and scored on a base hit by Colby Rasmus . Jose Bautista singled Rasmus to third and stole second before Edwin Encarnacion walked to load the bases. Adam Lind capped the rally with a walk, scoring Rasmus.
"It could have been worse," Lowe said. "I ain't kidding. I left the bases loaded."
Lowe recovered to retire the next six batters and used a double play to erase a leadoff walk in the sixth before being replaced by Joe Smith .
Making his third start of the season after working in relief for much of the year, Villanueva allowed just three hits and walked five as the Blue Jays won their first series since taking two of three at Miami from June 22-24.
Villanueva (4-0) issued back-to-back walks to Santana and Michael Brantley in the sixth, then ended his outing by striking out Casey Kotchman . That was one of four innings the right-hander ended with a strikeout.
"We just couldn't do anything against Villanueva," Acta said. "He pitched well."
Second baseman Jason Kipnis said the Indians weren't patient enough against Villanueva, who kept Cleveland off balance with a strong changeup.
"That's his main pitch, it's a good one," Kipnis said. "I thought we could have had a better approach today."
When Villanueva struck out Jack Hannahan to end the second, it was his 500th career K.
"I'm glad I came out on top today," Villanueva said, "and keep us at least close to that second wild card. We want every single game we play to matter."
Jason Frasor worked the seventh and Darren Oliver pitched the final two innings for his first save as the Blue Jays wrapped up their seventh shutout of the season.
The loss dropped the Indians below .500 on the road at 21-22. Cleveland has lost 16 of its past 24 road games.
NOTES: Blue Jays RHP Sergio Santos has been shut down for the season and will undergo shoulder surgery after experiencing pain during a throwing session on Saturday. ... Indians LHP Rafael Perez (strained back muscle) pitched one scoreless inning for Double-A Akron on Saturday, followed by a brief bullpen session. He's scheduled to throw again Monday, Acta said. ... Brantley extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a leadoff double in the second. He went 2 for 3 with a second double in the ninth, raising his average to .302. ... Oliver's save was just the sixth of his career. His last came April 27, 2011, against Toronto, when he was pitching for Texas. ... The Indians drop to 1-14 when they have five hits or fewer. ... Asdrubal Cabrera snapped an 0 for 16 slump with a single in the first.