Morales homers, Blue Jays bullpen holds off Brewers 4-3
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Toronto Blue Jays bullpen slammed the door on the Milwaukee Brewers to preserve a 4-3 victory Tuesday night.
Four relievers combined to shutout the Brewers over the final 4 2/3 innings after Milwaukee chased starter Joe Biagini with three runs in the fifth inning.
The Blue Jays had jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the frame on Kendrys Morales’ two-run homer.
“They pulled it close and you’re not even through the fifth yet,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of the need to go to his bullpen early.
The Brewers broke through against Biagini on Orlando Arcia’s run-scoring single. Jonathan Villar drove in a pair with a single later in the inning. Biagini departed after walking Eric Thames but reliever Danny Barnes (1-2) struck out Ryan Braun and Travis Shaw to end the threat.
“Barnes came in and struck out two of their top dogs,” Gibbons said.
Six of the first eight Blue Jays batters reached based against Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson (2-3). Toronto pushed across two runs in the second.
Nelson gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings, including the home run to Morales.
“Totally different game if you could take one pitch back,” Nelson said.
Biagini allowed three runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings. Roberto Osuna earned his seventh save in 10 chances.
The Brewers won both games played in Toronto in April. The teams close out the two-game series in Milwaukee on Wednesday afternoon.
BAUSTISTA AT HOT CORNER
Jose Bautista started at third base for the first time since 2013. The Blue Jays outfielder, who has played at third twice this season for a total four innings, hasn’t seen significant action at the position since 2011. “I think Jose likes a change of pace,” Gibbons said. With Bautista in the infield, Chris Coghlan got a start in the outfield.
“It doesn’t feel that foreign to me,” Bautista said. “I’m just glad I didn’t have any rockets hit at me.”
NIGHT OF FIRSTS
Toronto’s Anthony Alford had a lead-off, pinch-hit double in the seventh for his first career hit. The 22-year-old Alford had been hitless in six career at-bats until connecting off Milwaukee reliever Rob Scahill. “At first I thought it had a chance to be a home run,” said Alford, who said he plans to give the ball to his mother, Lawanda, in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Barnes notched his first career win by pitching 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. “It feels good,” Barnes said. “We won a tight game. There’s a lot of positives.”
Gibbons’ daughter, Jordan, is lead vocalist and plays rhythm guitar for the alt-country band Southtown, which will perform at the Rogers Centre on Sunday as part of Country Day when the Blue Jays host the Texas Rangers. “My ultimate goal was to hang on through that weekend,” Gibbons joked, referring to rumors earlier this season that he would be fired after Toronto’s rough start.
Blue Jays: LHP Fransico Liriano, on the disabled list since May 11 with shoulder soreness, pitched a simulated game at Miller Park on Tuesday. “He’ll go out Sunday and make a rehab start somewhere,” manager John Gibbons said. .Aaron Sanchez, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a right middle finger laceration, will likely make a rehab start before returning to the rotation. “I think our feeling is that he’ll need to test it,” Gibbons said. ... 3B Darwin Barney didn’t start due to hamstring tightness.
Brewers: 1B Eric Thames returned to the lineup after leaving Sunday’s game against the Chicago Cubs with leg cramping. Manager Craig Counsell said Thames’ recent battle with strep throat may have been a factor. “He was sick and that certainly got him out of his routine,” Counsell said. A pitch hit Thames on the left leg in the seventh but he remained in the game. ... RHP Junior Guerra, out since April 3 with a strained right calf, is tentatively scheduled to return to the rotation on Friday.
Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman (4-2) pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings and hit his first career home run in on Thursday against at Atlanta. Stroman pitched a complete game and allowed just two runs against the Brewers in Toronto on April 12 but took the loss.
Brewers: Matt Garza (2-0) is 6-6 with a 2.14 ERA in 13 career starts against Toronto but hasn’t faced the Blue Jays since 2010 while pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.