TORONTO (AP) — Coming off consecutive wins, Ricky Nolasco wasn’t particularly efficient or effective against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run homer in the first inning, Kevin Pillar singled home the winning run in the ninth and the Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins 5-4 on Monday night.
Nolasco gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings. He walked two, struck out six and threw 114 pitches, 71 strikes.
“He hung in there pretty good,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “A lot of pitches in not-so-many innings, but that’s a tough team over there.”
Newly signed slugger Kendrys Morales made his Minnesota debut, batting sixth and starting as the designated hitter. He went 1 for 3 with a single and a walk.
Jose Reyes also connected off Nolasco, who gave up two home runs for the third time 13 starts this season.
“I thought I had some pretty decent stuff tonight besides the couple of mistakes,” Nolasco said. “They capitalized on that.”
The Blue Jays squandered a two-run lead in the top of the ninth but then recovered to avoid their first three-game skid since May 9-11. Toronto was blanked in back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday by the St. Louis Cardinals.
“The last two games have been kind of tough for us,” Reyes said. “We’re just happy to get this win.”
Dioner Navarro drew a leadoff walk from Matt Guerrier (0-1) in the ninth and was replaced by pinch-runner Erik Kratz. Anthony Gose struck out trying to bunt and Casey Fien came on to face Reyes, who singled. Pillar followed with the winning hit and Kratz slid home headfirst ahead of the throw from Oswaldo Arcia.
“You walk the leadoff guy, you give yourself pretty much a mess and anything can happen after that,” Gardenhire said.
Casey Janssen (1-0) got the win after blowing his second save.
Encarnacion erased a 2-0 deficit with a two-out shot off Nolasco in the first, his 20th. Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz, with 21 home runs, is the only other player with 20 this season.
The drive snapped a streak of 18 scoreless innings for the Blue Jays.
Reyes hit a leadoff shot in the fifth and the Blue Jays boosted their major league-leading home run total to 91.
Minnesota jumped out to an early lead against Dickey when Danny Santana and Brian Dozier hit back-to-back homers in the first. It was the fourth leadoff homer of the season for the Twins and Santana’s first.
Dickey’s stretch of 11 consecutive outs ended when Josh Willingham hit a one-out triple in the sixth. After a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases, Dickey was pulled. Dustin McGowan got Trevor Plouffe to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Minnesota tied it against Janssen in the ninth after second baseman Steve Tolleson couldn’t complete a double play on Plouffe’s one-out grounder to third. Pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez went to second on defensive indifference and scored when Kurt Suzuki’s sinking liner dropped in front of Pillar in left for an RBI double. Eduardo Escobar followed with a tying double into shallow left.
Dickey allowed two runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out three.
“We were able to be patient, lay off some pitches and make him throw some pitches, but he’s tough,” Gardenhire said. “We hit a couple of home runs to lead off the game but really not much after that.”
Morales was called out on strikes in the first, grounded out in the fourth, walked in the sixth and singled in the ninth.
NOTES: Minnesota OF Aaron Hicks (right shoulder) was held out of the starting lineup but came on as a pinch-runner in the ninth. … The Twins signed SS Nick Gordon, the fifth overall pick in last week’s first-year player draft. He’s the son of three-time All-Star pitcher Tom Gordon. … Twins RHP Kevin Correia (2-7) faces Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (5-2) on Tuesday.
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