MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Toronto Blue Jays started a 10-game trip
a couple of weeks ago, lost eight times and fell well back in the
AL wild-card race.
An opportunity to redeem their road record and climb back into
contention started Thursday night with a 5-0 win over the Minnesota
Twins.Ted Lilly threw six shutout innings, Bengie Molina backed him
with a two-run homer and the Blue Jays began another stretch of 10
straight games away from home."We haven't been a good road team to begin with," manager John
Gibbons said. "We're not really looking at that now. Everybody's
written us off anyway, so we're just going to play it out and see
what happens."Alex Rios had two RBI for Toronto, which trailed Minnesota by
7½ games in the wild-card standings when the day began. Chicago was
a half-game back and Boston was 1½ games behind.A day after a dramatic, 4-3 comeback victory over
division-leading Detroit, the Twins moved into the wild-card lead
for the first time. But their bats were stifled by Lilly (10-10),
taking a bit of the buzz out of the Metrodome crowd of 30,118."We put ourselves in a position where we're out of the hole,"
said Michael Cuddyer, who went 0-for-3 with a walk. "We've just
got to continue playing the way we've been."Carlos Silva (8-10) threw well but lost for the first time in
six starts because of Lilly, who struck out three and helped the
Blue Jays win for the fourth time in five games following a
seven-game losing streak. He gave up only three hits and two walks,
despite throwing 107 pitches.Changing speeds and throwing inside effectively, Lilly won for
the first time in four starts -- not a significant streak, but
enough that he couldn't even recall the last game Toronto won when
he pitched.Minnesota had runners at the corners with two outs in the
second, but Jason Tyner grounded out.In the sixth, Luis Castillo and Nick Punto started with singles.
Joe Mauer moved them over with a groundout to second, but Cuddyer
struck out and Justin Morneau popped one up to Troy Glaus at third."One thing I haven't been doing as well as I should is getting
those big outs," Lilly said. "You're going to get guys base every
once in a while. The guys out that win a lot of games find a way to
minimize the damage in those situations."The Twins were just off-balance all night at the plate."He kind of mesmerized us," manager Ron Gardenhire said.Silva was even with Lilly until the fifth, when Lyle Overbay led
off with a single for Toronto's first hit. Two batters later Molina
hit his 10th homer to right-center field, giving the Blue Jays a
2-0 lead.Toronto tacked on some insurance in the seventh, when Eric
Hinske and Molina each reached on singles. Aaron Hill's high
chopper to third was stopped by a leaping Punto, who chased Hinske
home and threw him out. John McDonald followed with an infield hit
to load the bases, though, and Molina scored on Silva's wild pitch.
Then Rios stroked a single through the hole to left, driving in
two, making it 5-0 and finishing Silva.With left-hander Francisco Liriano on the disabled list
indefinitely because of problems with his shoulder and elbow, the
pressure is on Silva and others to stabilize Minnesota's rotation.
Though this wasn't the desired result, Silva had by all accounts a
satisfactory start. He gave up only a handful of hard hits,
including the sinker away that Molina hit over the wall."He did what he was supposed to do," Gardenhire said.But Lilly was better."Ted is nasty, man," Molina said. "I just hope he understands
that. He's very nasty to righties and to lefties. The guy can
pitch. He showed that in the sixth. He was against the ropes, and
he got out of it."
The Twins handed out replica Mauer sideburns to the first
10,000 fans through the gates. Made of synthetic hair, the black,
fuzzy novelties came with double-sided tape for easy sticking to
the face. Several teammates, including Morneau, Torii Hunter and
Jason Bartlett, wore them during batting practice. ... Toronto and
Minnesota are first and second in the majors in team batting
average. ... The Blue Jays are in a stretch where they're playing
20 out of 26 games on the road.