for this game

Litsch, bullpen help Blue Jays hold off Twins

May 14, 2008 - 4:50 AM By Brian Hall PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The Toronto Blue Jays' starting rotation has shown time and again that it just needs a little bit of offensive support. Those runs haven't been easy to come by, but on Tuesday the offense did its part.

Jesse Litsch held down the surging Minnesota Twins early and his teammates supplied just enough offense late as the Blue Jays took the opener of a four-game series at the Metrodome with a 5-3 victory.

Litsch (5-1) went 5 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on only four hits. Matt Stairs, Shannon Stewart, Lyle Overbay, Aaron Hill and Gregg Zaun added an RBI apiece for the Blue Jays, who won for the eighth time in the past 13 games.

"We are swinging the bats now, we're all going to start winning here," Litsch said. "We need to get on a roll and get everything going. A lot of two-out hits today, just being able to get the runs across is key for us now. I think we're going to turn it around from here on out."

Toronto's struggling offense was led by Stairs, who hit his fifth home run of the season to go with two walks and two runs scored.

"People always say we have been struggling so bad, and we have. But it is one of those things where you have to tip your hat to the pitchers," Stairs said. "We've come across some pretty good pitchers the last two weeks. We got some big hits (Monday) and it carried over into (Tuesday's) game."

The runs were a welcome sight for the Jays, who had entered the game with only four runs in their previous four games. When Stairs crossed the plate on Overbay's double with two outs in the fourth inning, it snapped a string of 31 1/3 consecutive innings in which Toronto had been scoreless by an opposing starting pitcher.

"I am not going to say it's going to turn our year around, but it definitely gives us a more positive outlook," Stairs said. "We can get up there to hit with some more confidence."

Litsch seemingly was in control before surrendering a leadoff single to rookie Carlos Gomez in the sixth inning. With two outs and a runner on first, Toronto manager John Gibbons made the move to the bullpen with lefthanded cleanup hitter Justin Morneau coming up. Jesse Carlson lasted one batter, giving up an RBI triple to Morneau.

Jason Frasor got out of the jam and threw a scoreless seventh. Armando Benitez and Scott Downs pitched the eighth and closer B.J. Ryan finished it off for the Jays with his sixth save of the season.

Twins starter Kevin Slowey (0-3) started strong but tired in the middle innings and left after giving up Stairs' home run in the sixth. In his second start since being activated from the disabled list, Slowey lasted 5 2/3 innings, yielding three runs on five hits while striking out five.

Stairs' home run had been preceded by a 15-pitch at-bat by Scott Rolen.

"I don't want to over-sensationalize it," Rolen said. "I made an out. Matty hit the home run. I think the credit should be given where the credit is due."

"He kept going at (Rolen) and got him out. Then I think, to Stairs, he tried to throw a changeup and it just drifted to the inner half and Stairs deposited it into the seats," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Slowey. "But he threw the ball pretty good for us. He gave us a good effort and gave us an opportunity to win. We just couldn't score any runs on them."

Minnesota had taken three of four over the weekend against the Boston Red Sox and had won 10 of its last 11 games under the roof of the Metrodome.

"We didn't play good baseball," Gardenhire said. "We missed a few plays out there. We missed one out in the outfield. The first ball of the game that we threw in from center field, I caught it in the dugout. That's always a bad sign when the manager is catching the ball in the dugout.

"We were just a little sloppy out there."

After Hill had singled with one out in the first, Gomez fired a seemingly easy return throw back into the infield which sailed over the head of shortstop Adam Everett and went into the Twins' dugout. Hill advanced to third on the error but was stranded after Slowey struck out Alex Rios and Rolen to end the threat.

Gomez later hit his third home run, a solo shot with two outs in the third, to start the scoring.

Jason Kubel hit a pinch-hit home run on the first pitch of the eighth inning against Benitez to make it a 5-3 game. It was the first pitch thrown by Benitez in a Toronto uniform.

"I don't think we came out flat," Twins second baseman Brendan Harris said. "It was just a frustrating game, because you start at the plate and you are down 0-1. I think a few guys felt they had pitches to hit, but rolled over balls.

"We just never could really put a big inning together like we had the past couple of days."








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    TORONTO 0 0 0 2 0 1 1 1 0 5 10 0
    MINNESOTA 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 3 7 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: TOR - JESSE LITSCH, JESSE CARLSON (6TH), JASON FRASOR (6TH), ARMANDO
    BENITEZ (8TH), SCOTT DOWNS (8TH), B.J. RYAN (9TH) AND GREGG
    ZAUN
    MIN - KEVIN SLOWEY, MATT GUER

    May 13 11:09 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY JASON KUBEL (5) TO RIGHT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
    8TH OFF ARMANDO BENITEZ.
    CURRENT SCORE: TORONTO 5, MINNESOTA 3
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: C GOMEZ (.277, 2-FOR-3, HR, RBI)

    Blue Jays 5, Twins 3  Bot 8, 0 OutsMay 13 10:41 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY GREGG ZAUN SCORED KEVIN MENCH.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, S STEWART ON FIRST, L OVERBAY ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TORONTO 5
    MINNESOTA 2 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR TORONTO: M SCUTARO (.247, 1-FOR-3)

    Blue Jays 5, Twins 2  Top 8, 0 OutsMay 13 10:36 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY AARON HILL SCORED GREGG ZAUN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, A HILL ON SECOND, B WILKERSON ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TORONTO 4
    MINNESOTA 2 TOP, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR TORONTO: A RIOS (.265, 0-FOR-3)

    Blue Jays 4, Twins 2  Top 7, 0 OutsMay 13 10:12 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    TRIPLE BY JUSTIN MORNEAU SCORED BRENDAN HARRIS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J MORNEAU ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TORONTO 3
    MINNESOTA 2 BOTTOM, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: M CUDDYER (.269, 0-FOR-2)

    Blue Jays 3, Twins 2  Bot 6, 0 OutsMay 13 9:54 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY MATT STAIRS (5) TO RIGHT WITH 2 OUT IN THE
    6TH OFF KEVIN SLOWEY.
    CURRENT SCORE: TORONTO 3, MINNESOTA 1
    DUE UP FOR TORONTO: L OVERBAY (.273, 1-FOR-2, RBI)

    Blue Jays 3, Twins 1  Top 6, 0 OutsMay 13 9:40 PM
  • 30
    roots
    McTool Added 5 roots

    Blue Jays 2, Twins 1  Top 6, 0 OutsMay 13 9:36 PM
  • 25
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 25 roots

    Blue Jays 2, Twins 1  Bot 5, 0 OutsMay 13 9:21 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY SHANNON STEWART SCORED LYLE OVERBAY.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, S STEWART ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TORONTO 2
    MINNESOTA 1 TOP, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR TORONTO: G ZAUN (.278, 0-FOR-1)

    Blue Jays 2, Twins 1  Top 4, 0 OutsMay 13 9:07 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY LYLE OVERBAY SCORED MATT STAIRS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, L OVERBAY ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TORONTO 1
    MINNESOTA 1 TOP, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR TORONTO: S STEWART (.217, 0-FOR-1)

    Blue Jays 1, Twins 1  Top 4, 0 OutsMay 13 9:06 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY CARLOS GOMEZ (3) TO LEFT WITH 2 OUT IN THE
    3RD OFF JESSE LITSCH.
    CURRENT SCORE: TORONTO 0, MINNESOTA 1
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: B HARRIS (.256, 0-FOR-1)

    Blue Jays 0, Twins 1  Bot 3, 0 OutsMay 13 8:56 PM