Beltre homers in 7th, Rangers beat Blue Jays 6-4
TORONTO (AP) — For a guy who never even got in the game during Saturday’s 18-inning marathon, Rangers closer Joe Nathan sure put in plenty of work, warming up nine times as the bullpen emptied around him.
Fortunately for Texas, Nathan still had enough energy left to escape a ninth-inning jam Sunday and wrap up a much-needed victory.
Adrian Beltre hit a tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning, Nelson Cruz and David Murphy also connected and the Rangers rallied from a four-run deficit to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-4.
“To come back after a tough game yesterday and get a win here is huge,” said Nathan, who picked up his 19th save in 20 chances, helping the Rangers avoid a three-game sweep and their first four-game losing streak of the season.
Nathan said he might have been busier Saturday than teammate Ross Wolf, who worked 6 2-3 innings of relief.
“I think I may have thrown more pitches than he did,” the veteran closer joked.
Despite feeling worn down by that heavy workload of warmup tosses, Nathan insisted he still wanted to pitch Sunday.
“I told them I didn’t feel my best at the beginning of the day, but I was definitely good to go,” he said. “It actually surprised me how good I did feel when I got out there. This is the best I’ve felt all year. Like I’ve always said, adrenaline is a great drug.”
Beltre said he was impressed with Nathan’s resilience.
“He came back today and looked better than the first week of the season,” Beltre said. “He was throwing in the mid-90s (mph). He was terrific today. We needed him big-time.”
Neal Cotts (2-0) worked one inning for the win, and Beltre hit an opposite-field shot to right off Neil Wagner for his 14th homer of the season as the Rangers recorded their biggest comeback of the year, avenging Saturday’s grueling 4-3 loss.
Wagner (1-1) had pitched 7 2-3 scoreless innings since being promoted from Triple-A Buffalo on May 29.
Cruz hit a solo homer in the fourth, his team-leading 15th. He finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs. Beltre went 2 for 4 with a walk, extending his hitting streak to 14 games.
“It was huge,” Beltre said of the victory, just the second for Texas on a six-game road trip. “We haven’t been playing well lately in every phase of the game.”
Adam Lind hit a three-run homer for the Blue Jays, who had won three straight.
Pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis walked to begin the bottom of the ninth and advanced to second when Elvis Andrus bobbled Munenori Kawasaki’s grounder to shortstop for an error.
Both runners advanced on Melky Cabrera’s sacrifice bunt before Jose Bautista struck out on three pitches, then was ejected for arguing with plate umpire Gary Darling. Bautista jawed with Darling, then tossed his bat, helmet and elbow pad on the field in protest before leaving. The ejection was his first of the season.
Nathan closed it out by getting Edwin Encarnacion to pop out to second.
“It was definitely nice to actually come in today and feel pretty good,” Nathan said. “I was a little worried about it.”
The Blue Jays took a 4-0 lead with a two-out rally in the third. Cabrera walked, Bautista reached on an infield single when second baseman Jurickson Profar slipped, and Encarnacion hit an RBI single. Lind followed with a three-run drive to center, his sixth.
Making his second start since missing 31 games with a right triceps injury, Josh Johnson allowed three runs and five hits in five innings for Toronto. He walked four and struck out four.
“Ideally we were looking for more innings, but that didn’t happen,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Johnson didn’t allow a hit until Cruz’s two-out homer in the fourth. Murphy followed with a walk and scored on a double by Chris McGuiness, the first hit and RBI of his career.
Johnson left the dugout after the fourth to have trainers examine a blister on his middle finger. He said the blister didn’t affect his performance, adding that he doesn’t expect it to keep him from making his next start.
“I’m not going to make excuses and make that the reason why I was throwing balls and walking people,” Johnson said. “I’ve still got to make pitches and get outs.”
The Rangers cut it to 4-3 on Cruz’s RBI single in the fifth, then tied it against reliever Juan Perez in the sixth. Leury Garcia scored from third when catcher Josh Thole made an errant throw to second on Craig Gentry’s stolen base.
Gentry went to third on the play but was called out for leaving the bag too soon on shallow pop fly by Andrus, mistakenly thinking the ball had dropped in for a hit.
Beltre’s two-out homer gave the Rangers the lead in the seventh, and Murphy added some insurance by going deep on Dustin McGowan’s first pitch of the eighth, his eighth homer of the season.
“That was big right there. He gave us some more cushion,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Rangers rookie right-hander Justin Grimm allowed four runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings. He walked three and struck out six.
“I had a really good fastball today,” Grimm said. “Both sides of the plate, my command was great with it. They weren’t doing anything with it at all.”
NOTES: Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said SS Jose Reyes (left ankle) should be ready to begin a minor league rehab assignment within the next 10 days. ... The Blue Jays recalled RHP Thad Weber from Triple-A Buffalo to replace RHP Brad Lincoln, who was optioned to Triple-A after pitching four innings Saturday. Weber was optioned back to Buffalo after the game, clearing a spot for LHP Darren Oliver (shoulder) to come off the disabled list before Monday’s game against the Chicago White Sox. ... Gibbons will skip Monday’s game to attend his son’s high school graduation. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale will take over. ... The Rangers put RHP Michael Kirkman on the 15-day DL after a recurrence of lymphoma around his right triceps. The team says a complete recovery is expected. ... The Rangers also put RHP Alexi Ogando (shoulder) on the 15-day DL, recalled RHP Josh Lindblom from Triple-A Round Rock and selected the contract of right-hander Kyle McLellan from Triple-A. ... Texas 2B Ian Kinsler (bruised ribs) has started hitting off a tee but has no timetable for a return. Kinsler has not played since May 17.