Hentgen, Blue Jays shade Royals

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays 5, Kansas City Royals 4

The Toronto Blue Jays ascended out of the American League basement on Tuesday.

Reed Johnson's solo home run in the fifth inning proved to be difference as the Blue Jays hung on for a 5-4 victory over the visiting Kansas City Royals at SkyDome.

It was Toronto's second win in eight games and Kansas City's ninth loss over its last dozen outings.

As a result, the Blue Jays (9-18) inched percentage points ahead of the Royals (8-17) in the AL standings.

Johnson's third homer of the season came off Kansas City starter Darrell May and made a winner of Pat Hentgen.

Hentgen (1-2) pitched five innings in his sixth start of the season, allowing four runs on six hits while striking out two.

"Obviously, I'd like to go deeper in the game," he said. "I'm disappointed with that.

"Winning the game is the most important thing and the bullpen did a super job picking me up."

Reliever Mike Nakamura was sensational in relief of Hentgen.

Nakamura held the Royals hitless and struck out three over three innings before giving way to rookie closer Jason Frasor, who spun a scoreless ninth for his first MLB save.

"If Nakamura doesn't do what he did, we could be in a world of trouble there," Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca said. "That was huge.

"He was throwing everything for strikes, keeping it down, changing speeds."

May (0-4) permitted five runs and seven hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking two.

Toronto erupted for four runs off May in the bottom of the second inning.

Josh Phelps led off with a single and took third base on Eric Hinske's ground-rule double.

One out later, Orlando Hudson walked to load the bases for Chris Gomez, who stroked a two-run single.

Johnson then doubled across Hudson and Frank Catalanotto delivered Gomez with a sacrifice fly.

Johnson's solo homer off May upped it to 5-0 in the fourth, and a good thing too, because the Royals smacked Hentgen for four runs in the top of the fifth.

Juan Gonzalez and Benito Santiago opened with consecutive singles to bring up Desi Relaford, who doubled in a run.

Angel Berroa followed with a two-run double before scoring himself on Joe Randa's RBI single.

"You go out there and do what I did in the fifth inning with a 5-0 lead, you deserve to get hooked," said Hentgen, whose last win in a Blue Jays uniform came on Oct. 2, 1999.

"For four innings, I located extremely well. Then for the fifth inning, I just didn't locate well and you could see the results."

with files from CP Online