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Blue Jays edge Twins in ninth

By Larry Millson

Sports Xchange

TORONTO — Kevin Pillar blooped a single to right field in the bottom of the ninth to drive in the winning run as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Minnesota Twins 5-4 on Monday.

With first baseman Edwin Encarnacion hitting a three-run homer in the first and shortstop Jose Reyes adding a solo blast in the fifth, the Blue Jays (39-26) snapped a string of two straight shutout losses.

Center fielder Danny Santana and second baseman Brian Dozier hit solo home runs to begin the game for the Twins (29-33).

Right-hander Casey Janssen (1-0) pitched the top of the ninth for the Blue Jays, seeking his 12th save, but he could not hold a 4-2 lead. He gave up a one-out single to designated hitter Kendrys Morales, his first hit in his first game with the Twins. Janssen later yielded a double to catcher Kurt Suzuki with two outs that scored pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez from second to make it 4-3.

Shortstop Eduardo Escobar tied the game with a bloop RBI double to left.

Right-hander Matt Guerrier (0-1) walked catcher Dioner Navarro to lead off the home ninth. After center fielder Anthony Gose struck out, right-hander Casey Fien took over to face Reyes, who singled to push pinch-runner Erik Kratz to second. Pillar, who entered the game in left field as a defensive replacement, hit his single to right and Kratz beat the throw home for the winning run.

Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey allowed home runs to the first two batters he faced, but they were the only runs he allowed through 5 1/3 innings. The right-handed knuckleballer gave up five hits and two walks while striking out three.

Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco allowed seven hits, including two home runs, and four runs in 5 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out six.

Dickey retired 11 batters in a row before Twins left fielder Josh Willingham tripled to right center with one out in the sixth. Right fielder Oswaldo Arcia was hit by a pitch, a call that Dickey and manager John Gibbons questioned. Morales walked to load the bases.

Right-hander Dustin McGowan came in from the bullpen to induce an inning-ending double play on his third pitch to third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who grounded a fastball to shortstop.

McGowan also got a double play in the seventh, and left-hander Aaron Loup got the Twins to ground into a double play in the eighth.

There were three home runs in the first inning, including two by the Twins on 3-2 pitches from Dickey. Santana opened the game with his second homer of the season, and Dozier followed with his 13th.

The Blue Jays came back in their half of the first with a three-run homer by Encarnacion (No. 20) on a 1-1 slider. It followed a one-out single by left fielder Melky Cabrera and a walk by right fielder Jose Bautista.

Reyes led off the home fifth with his fourth home run of the season when he drove a 3-2 fastball to right field to put the Blue Jays ahead 4-2.

NOTES: 1B/DH Kendrys Morales, who was signed as a free agent on Sunday, started as designated hitter for Monday’s game. The Twins had said he would need a few days before he would be ready to play. ... Blue Jays CF Colby Rasmus (hamstring) is scheduled to join the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons this week to start a rehabilitation assignment. He has been on the disabled list since May 13. ... The Twins signed SS Nick Gordon, their first pick in last Thursday’s draft, on Monday for $3.851-million on Monday. ... The Blue Jays have been in first place in the American League East for 18 consecutive days, their longest uninterrupted stretch alone in first since 1993 when they were first from June 24 until the season ended. ... RHP Kevin Correia (2-7, 6.11 earned-run average) will start Tuesday’s game for the Twins against Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (5-2, 4.12 ERA).