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Cut by Jays in spring training, Johnson makes former team pay

TORONTO (AP) -- Cut loose by the Blue Jays during spring training, Reed Johnson made a triumphant return to Toronto on Saturday.

Johnson hit a three-run homer, Jason Marquis tossed seven solid innings to win his third consecutive start and the Chicago Cubs defeated the Blue Jays 6-2 for their sixth win in seven games.

Johnson, who was released by Toronto on March 23, got some redemption against his former club in the top of the second inning when he took a 1-1 sinker from Jays starter Roy Halladay over the wall in left for a three-run homer.

"It had to feel good for him," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "It felt good to me."

The home run into the netting covering the Jays' bullpen in left came less than 24 hours after Johnson received a standing ovation from the Rogers Centre crowd during a pinch-hit at-bat in the series opener.

Johnson got another warm ovation from the Toronto crowd on Saturday and even after his home run extended the Cubs' early lead, there was a large smattering of cheers for one of the city's favorite players.

"I had a lot of good memories here in Toronto and that's just one more to add to the collection," Johnson said. "I wish my wife and my family could have been here to see it. I expected people to stand up and clap but I didn't know it was going to be as special as that."

Johnson's home run was set up by poor defense from Toronto's David Eckstein. With two men on and two out, Ronny Cedeno hit a scorching grounder to shortstop which bounced off Eckstein's glove, extending the inning and allowing Mike Fontenot to score Chicago's first run.

Jays ace Roy Halladay wasn't about to point fingers after the game.

"There's obviously things you can't control as a pitcher," Halladay said. "I've got to worry about my job and I just didn't make a quality pitch after that. I think that's the biggest thing is knowing what you can control and what you need to control."

Halladay ran into more trouble in the top of the third inning when third baseman Mark Derosa hit an RBI single up the middle to score Derek Lee.

Halladay (8-6) gave up six runs -- two earned, and seven hits in five innings. It was his shortest outing since July 12, at Boston, and the most runs he has surrendered since last June 5, against Tampa Bay.

Chicago's six-runs were more than enough for Marquis, who allowed one run and four hits.

Marquis faced just one batter over the minimum during the first four innings of the game and didn't allow a hit until Lyle Overbay led off with a single to right-center.

The 29-year-old is now 4-0 with a 3.09 ERA over his past six starts. He credits the majority of his recent success to an aggressive approach on the mound.

"I've felt pretty good all year," said Marquis who is 5-3 with a 4.24 ERA in 13 starts this season. "Stuff wise I feel like I'm the same but I'm just attacking the strike zone early and often now."

Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells left the game after popping out to Derrek Lee in the bottom of the seventh. After the at-bat he was seen grimacing and holding his left wrist on his way back to the dugout. The 29-year-old missed 25 games earlier this season with a fractured left wrist.

Following Saturday's game he said it was just a little sore. He placed ice on it following the game and will see how it feels on Sunday.

Chicago was leading 6-0 when Marquis gave up three consecutive singles to open the eighth inning. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Piniella brought in reliever Carlos Marmol.

The right-hander struck out Joe Inglett and Alex Rios before walking Matt Stairs to force in a run. Marmol ended the threat by getting Scott Rolen to pop out to second base.

Bobby Howry allowed a run in the ninth.

Game notes
Lee has hit safely in 20 of his past 24 games. ... Aramis Ramirez extended his hitting streak to six games. ... Lyle Overbay snapped an 0-for-14 skid with his single off Marquis to lead off the fifth inning.