Nelson Cruz hits two-run homer as Rangers edge the Jays 2-1
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva, left, watches as Texas Rangers DH Nelson Cruz, right, rounds the bases after hitting a two-run homerun during fifth inning action in Toronto on Saturday, August 18, 2012. (Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Saturday, August 18, 2012 4:31PM EDT
TORONTO -- Another strong start for Carlos Villanueva. Another game where the Toronto Blue Jays bats couldn't deliver him a victory.
Villanueva held up his end of the bargain against the high-powered Rangers offence on Saturday, but a two-run homer by Nelson Cruz ended up giving Texas a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays.
That was pretty much the only mistake he made against the American League's highest-scoring team. The Cruz homer came in the fifth inning after Blue Jays right-fielder Anthony Gose lost a routine flyball in the sun and allowed Adrian Beltre to reach base on a ground-rule double.
Called the team's "most consistent starter" by manager John Farrell prior to the game, Villanueva (6-3) allowed two runs on four hits over 6 1-3 innings of work. He's been tagged with three losses in his last four starts, but received just seven runs of support in those outings.
Reliever Michael Kirkman (1-2) picked up the victory and Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his 24th save.
Roy Oswalt made his first start for Texas since July 30 and allowed one run on two hits with two walks and five strikeouts. He also had a hit batter and two balks.
The Rangers starter looked to be in total control while retiring Toronto's first seven batters until coming up against Gose in the bottom of the third. After walking the Blue Jays rookie, he watched him steal second before committing a balk to move him over to third.
Adeiny Hechavarria promptly picked up his first career RBI by driving in Gose with a single to make it 1-0. That was all the offence Toronto would be able to muster.
Texas countered in the top of the fifth -- with a little help. Beltre led off the inning with a ground-rule double that Gose lost in the sun and Cruz hit his 19th homer on the very next pitch.
But Villanueva steadied himself from there, retiring seven of the next nine before getting lifted for Aaron Loup with one out in the seventh.
The Blue Jays had their chances to tie the game. They loaded the bases in both the sixth and seventh innings, but couldn't push a run across.
Notes: Toronto's record in August dropped to 5-12 ... Oswalt started in place of Canadian Ryan Dempster, who left the Rangers for personal reasons ... Toronto's Yunel Escobar was tossed from the game by umpire Jeff Nelson in the seventh for arguing balls and strikes ... The Jays hope to get Brett Lawrie (rib cage) and Jose Bautista (left wrist) back in the lineup over the next week ... Henderson Alvarez (7-10) is expected to close out the three-game series for Toronto on Sunday against Matt Harrison (13-7) ... Announced attendance was 30,033.