White Sox use 2-run 9th to hold off Blue Jays
Loss spoils Bret Lawrie's return to Toronto lineup
The Toronto Blue Jays starters seemed to have found their way. Now it is a matter of getting the bats going.
Josh Johnson held the Chicago White Sox to four hits and two runs in seven innings on Tuesday but it was not good enough.
Chicago scored twice in the ninth inning to snap a 2-2 tie and then held off the Blue Jays for a 4-3 victory before a crowd of 16,131 at Rogers Centre.
Johnson came off the shortest start of his career, 1 1/3 innings in an 11-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers on April 11, at Comerica Park to become the first Blue Jays starter to go a full seven innings this season.
"I was more aggressive overall," Johnson said. "My fastball, curveball, slider everything was going not just to the catcher but through the catcher and through the zone. That was the main focus for the start and it worked out."
Toronto manager John Gibbons was also pleased with Johnson's performance.
"I thought he was terrific," said Gibbons. "I thought maybe early he was overthrowing a little bit but he settled in and did a great job. He kept us in the game. We're still waiting for the offence to break out."
Dayan Viciedo hit a run-scoring double in the ninth inning and Hector Gimenez followed with a sacrifice fly to put the White Sox into a 4-2 lead.
The Blue Jays came back with one run in the bottom of the ninth on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., who made his first start of the season after opening the season on the disabled list with a strained left oblique.
Paul Konerko homered for the White Sox (6-8). Colby Rasmus and J.P. Arencibia hit home runs for the Blue Jays (6-8).
Toronto reliever Steve Delabar (1-1) walked Adam Dunn to open the ninth, with Dewayne Wise coming in as a pinch runner. Konerko then walked.
Delabar struck out Conor Gillaspie, but Viciedo lined a double to centre that just eluded Emilio Bonifacio to score a run and put Chicago into a 3-2 lead.
Bonifacio had moved to centre field from right field after Rajai Davis pinch-hit for Rasmus in the seventh when the White Sox sent out left-hander Hector Santiago.
Gimenez hit a sacrifice fly against left-hander Darren Oliver to put Chicago up by two runs.
Matt Lindstrom (1-0) pitched a third of an inning to pick up the win.
Addison Reed earned his fifth save of the season despite allowing the run in the ninth.
Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind singled to put runners at the corners in the bottom of the ninth and Lawrie hit a sacrifice fly.
"It's a gritty win, that's one of those that could've gone either way," Konerko said. "Obviously we're not clicking on all cylinders right now. We're not even close really."
White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod allowed seven hits and two runs, both on homers, in six innings.
Lawrie defensively sound
Lawrie was injured in March playing for Canada in an exhibition game against the Cincinnati Reds in the lead up to the World Baseball Classic. He completed his rehabilitation assignment with single-A Dunedin on Monday.
He was 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and made a couple of good defensive plays at third base.
"He made some great plays over there at third base," Gibbons said. "Tremendous range, good arm, yeah, it was good to see him out there."
The teams each scored once in the second.
In the top half, a single by Konerko and a walk to Gillaspie with one out and a two-out single by Alexei Ramirez loaded the bases. Konerko scored on a wild pitch on a curveball in the dirt to Gimenez.
Rasmus' fourth homer of the season on a 1-2 fastball with two out in the bottom half of the inning tied the game.
Arencibia hit his fifth homer of the season with two out in the sixth on a 1-2 fastball to put the Blue Jays into a 2-1 lead.
Konerko tied the game when he led off the seventh with his third homer of the season, a drive to left on a 3-0 fastball.
"It was a good win because we've played a lot of games that looked like that in this ballpark and they also seem to be losses," said Konerko.
He was impressed with Johnson.
"His stuff was really good tonight," said Konerko. "I got lucky to get a couple of fastballs that didn't have a lot of movement. He was throwing 93 to 95 miles per hour with two different breaking balls that were really good. Exceptional. "
"His stuff was well above average tonight. To get a win against a guy like that when he's got his stuff he's obviously got a history of being real good. We feel like we got away with one."
But Arencibia gave credit to the White Sox.
"You can't really say that it we let one get away," he said. "I think their pitchers did a good job of keeping us off the bases today and making pitches when they needed to make pitches. It was a tight game. You have to tip the hat to the hitter who hit a slider that was out in front and was able to get it over Bonnie's head."