MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jose Bautista had three hits and an RBI, and Brett Lawrie hit a grand slam in the ninth inning to help the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins 9-3 on Tuesday night.
Edwin Encarnacion had two hits and an RBI, and Aaron Loup (1-0) won in relief of starter Brandon Morrow, who lasted 3 2-3 innings on a 35-degree night at Target Field. The Blue Jays led 5-2 going into the ninth before Lawrie’s towering drive off Jared Burton put it away.
Chris Colabello had three hits and an RBI, and Trevor Plouffe hit a solo home run for the Twins. But right-hander Phil Hughes (0-1) watched an impressive start go to waste in Toronto’s five-run sixth inning.
Hughes gave up four runs and eight hits with seven strikeouts in five-plus innings to snap Minnesota’s three-game winning streak.
Munenori Kawasaki had two hits, including a double, after being called up from Triple-A Buffalo to help replace Maicer Izturis, who is out for the season with torn ligaments in his left knee. Designated hitter Adam Lind, who had a walk, a single and scored a run, left in the seventh inning with tightness in his lower back.
The Blue Jays have historically hit the ball very well at pitcher-friendly Target Field and they were facing one of their favorite pitchers in Hughes, who faced them many times over the years with the New York Yankees. Toronto hit 15 home runs off Hughes in 116 2-3 innings while he was in pinstripes.
Hughes kept the ball in the ballpark and kept the Blue Jays off balance through a very sharp first five innings. He recorded all seven of his strikeouts and needed just 74 pitches to get to the sixth.
But it all came apart there. Hughes gave up four quick hits to start the inning, including RBI singles by Bautista and Encarnacion to get chased with two on and nobody out. Michael Tonkin gave up a single to load the bases, and a throwing error from catcher Kurt Suzuki later in the inning allowed Dioner Navarro to score for a 5-2 lead.
The big inning helped Toronto overcome a rough start from Morrow, who threw 98 pitches and couldn’t get out of the fourth inning. Morrow gave up two runs and four hits with four walks and four strikeouts.
Bautista played center field because Colby Rasmus needed an extra day to rest his ailing hamstring. It was the slugger’s first start there since 2009 and he badly misplayed a sinking liner from Pedro Florimon, letting the ball get behind him for a triple.
Florimon scored on a single by Joe Mauer, who struck out three times, for a 2-0 lead.
NOTES: It was Lawrie’s second career grand slam. … Kawasaki was ruled out in the first inning when he laid down a bunt but stepped out of the batter’s box with his left foot before making contact with the ball, which is illegal. … Twins assistant GM Ron Antony said OF Oswaldo Arcia, on the disabled list with an injured wrist, received a cortisone injection in hopes of speeding his recovery. … Twins RHP Mike Pelfrey (0-2, 7.84 ERA) pitches Wednesday night against RHP R.A. Dickey (1-2, 5.30).
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