Cruz Homers As Rangers Top Blue Jays 2-1
TORONTO (AP) — Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer, Joe Nathan converted his team-record 22nd straight save opportunity and the Texas Rangers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 Saturday.
Nathan broke the Rangers mark he shared with Francisco Cordero, who was successful on 21 chances in a row in 2004. Nathan was the sixth pitcher for Texas.
Roy Oswalt started for Texas in place of Ryan Dempster, who missed his regular turn because of personal issues. Oswalt allowed one run and two hits in 4 2-3 innings, striking out five, walking two and balking twice in his first start since July 30.
Robbie Ross worked 1 1-3 innings, Tanner Scheppers got an out, Michael Kirkman (1-2) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, Mike Adams pitched the eighth and Nathan closed it out for his 24th save in 25 chances.
Toronto lost for the 15th time in 20 games despite limiting the AL West leaders, baseball’s highest scoring offense entering play Saturday, to five hits.
The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the third when Anthony Gose drew a one-out walk, stole second, moved to third on a balk and came home as Adeiny Hechavarria singled through a drawn-in infield.
A high and sunny sky played a role in Texas taking the lead in the fifth. Adrian Beltre led off with a fly ball to right that Gose lost in the sun, with the ball dropping in for a ground rule double. On the next pitch from Carlos Villanueva (6-3), Cruz hit his 19th home run.
Villanueva (6-3) allowed two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings and lost his third straight decision.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases with a trio of singles in the sixth, but Ross fanned Gose to end a 10-pitch at bat and maintain the one-run lead.
Toronto threatened again in the seventh against Scheppers. Hechavarria led off with a double and Rajai Davis singled and stole second before Colby Rasmus popped out. Edwin Encarnacion was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Kirkman relieved Scheppers. Kirkman escaped the jam by getting David Cooper and Yunel Escobar to fly out.
Escobar argued with home plate umpire Jeff Nelson after taking his position for the top of the eighth and was ejected for the first time this season. Hechavarria moved from third to shortstop.
NOTES: Toronto OF Jose Bautista (left wrist) took batting practice before the game and will do so again Sunday before beginning a minor league rehab assignment. Manager John Farrell said Bautista could return as soon as Aug. 24, when the Blue Jays begin a three-game series in Baltimore. … Rangers manager Ron Washington said Dempster will start Monday at home to Baltimore. RHP Scott Feldman, LHP Derek Holland and RHP Yu Darvish will all get an extra day of rest. … Rangers SS Elvis Andrus was held out of the starting lineup, with veteran Michael Young making just his second start of the season at shortstop. Andrus came on defensively in the ninth. … Toronto 3B Brett Lawrie (strained right ribcage) left his minor league rehab game after one at-bat because the field was considered an injury risk, a Blue Jays representative said.