Brad Wilkerson had a first-inning grand slam and Jesse Litsch broke a longstanding team record as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the visiting Kansas City Royals 6-0 on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Toronto improved to 26-25 and is now 9-3 in its last dozen games.
Litsch (6-1) went nine innings for his first big-league complete game and shutout, giving up just seven hits and one walk. The latter put him in the team record books as the young redhead threw 38 2/3 consecutive innings without giving up a base-on-balls before delivering one in the ninth inning.
Jimmy Key held the previous mark of 35 2/3 innings, set in 1990.
"It's good to be able to go out and finish one and get that first complete game under my belt," said Litsch, whose longest previous start was an 8 2/3-innings effort in his major league debut against Baltimore on May 15 last year.
Luke Hochevar took the loss, dropping to 3-4 as Kansas City fell to 21-28.
"We did a very poor job of working the count," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "Litsch is good. His numbers bear that out. He's been a solid pitcher."
The Jays led 4-0 after a first inning that looked to be going south until Wilkerson stepped up.
After a Shannon Stewart single, Aaron Hill shot one into the left field corner. Third base coach Marty Peavey sent Stewart home, where he was out easily thanks to an outstanding throw from the cutoff man, shortstop Tony Pena, to catcher John Buck.
After an out and a walk, Lyle Overbay grounded one up the middle that Pena dove for and knocked down, keeping Hill at third.
The way things had been going up to the last few days, this should have signaled another blown opportunity for Toronto's offence, but Wilkerson would have none of it.
Over the wall
He worked Hochevar to 3-0, took a strike and then powered one over the wall in left-centre field for the grand slam — Toronto's fourth of the season — making it 4-0.
"I got in a good hitter's count by being patient," Wilkerson said. "He gave me a good pitch, got it up over the middle of the plate. I tried not to do too much and drove the ball out."
Wilkerson had a strange day. He had two on in the third inning and grounded into a double play, then two on in the sixth when he struck out, and the bases loaded in the seventh when he popped out.
That's 1-3 with runners in scoring position, four RBI and seven men left on base.
Toronto added a fifth run in the sixth on one of those plays that can make you look like a hero if it works, and a goat if you don't.
Scott Rolen singled and stole second, with Overbay walking behind him. Two outs later, Gregg Zaun grounded to second baseman Mark Grudzielanek who, racing in, gloved the ball and tried to flip it out of the leather to Billy Butler at first.
Instead, the ball went by the first baseman, sending Rolen home to make it 5-0.
The Jays loaded the bases with none out on reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta in the seventh, chasing him in favour of Ramon Ramirez. A one-out walk brought home a run to make it 6-0, but a fly ball and a ground out ended the threat.