Baseball

Overbay blast bolsters Blue Jays

Lyle Overbay's home run to right field on Thursday helped the Toronto Blue Jays salvage a win in their three-game home series with the Los Angeles Angels.

Lyle Overbay's home run to right field on Thursday helped the Toronto Blue Jays salvage a win in their three-game home series with the Los Angeles Angels.

Overbay's solo shot was the difference in the 4-3 Toronto win. After going 21 games without a home run, the first baseman now has two in his last four games.

Joe Inglett, Brad Wilkerson and Rod Barajas also knocked in runs for the Blue Jays (24-25).

"Instead of falling back down three games below you pull back into one, that's big," said manager John Gibbons. "When you're a few games over .500, you have a little breathing room, things are much easier, you lose a few games and you still have your head above water.

"But when you're battling to get to .500, you lose a few and it's right back down to ground zero."

Overbay's homer made a winner out of Toronto starter A.J. Burnett (5-4). Burnett was staked to a 3-0 lead but ran into trouble in the fifth and sixth, allowing the Angels to tie the game.

Burnett struck out six and walked two over six innings, allowing six hits.

Jesse Carlson, Scott Downs and B.J. Ryan combined to yield just one hit in the final three innings. Carlson excited the crowd of over 22,000 at Rogers Centre by striking out all three batters he faced in the seventh, while Ryan punctuated a perfect ninth by whiffing Mike Napoli.

It was Ryan's 10th save of the season.

"We got a good bullpen down there, man," said Ryan. "You're grateful to have guys like Downsie and Jesse and everybody's stepping up and answering the bell for us."

The Blue Jays will continue their homestand with a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals that starts Friday.

Ervin Santana (6-2) took the loss for the Angels, allowing nine hits over six innings. Santana had switched spots in the starting rotation with Joe Saunders, as the latter is getting over an illness.

Sean Rodriguez got his first career run batted in, while Maicer Izturis and Jeff Mathis also drove in runs. Casey Kotchman and Garet Anderson both went 2-for-4 at the plate.

Slugger Vladimir Guerrero, who victimized the Jays with two home runs in a win on Wednesday, was hitless in four trips to the plate, striking out once.

Every Toronto batter except Aaron Hill hit safely, with Overbay and Shannon Stewart each smacking a pair of hits.

Hill had his best chance in the first, but his bid for extra bases was denied by Anderson at the left-field wall. Anderson continued the impressive display of defence in the next inning, gunning down Scott Rolen as he tried to stretch a hit into a double.

Toronto went up 2-0 in their half of the third inning. Marco Scutaro hit a one-out double to right and was followed by Inglett, who smashed a triple over Torii Hunter's head in centre.

For the second consecutive inning, a Blue Jay batter got thrown out at second trying to earn a double, but on this occasion, Wilkerson had cashed in Inglett.

Toronto amassed three singles and a walk in the third, but managed just one run. Barajas hit a single with the bases loaded to bring Alex Rios across. Rios had earned his 10th steal earlier in the sequence.

Burnett entered the fifth having allowed just one hit but got into his first spot of trouble. Burnett surrendered a leadoff hit from Kotchman and then hit Mathis.

It appeared he could escape the inning after inducing Brandon Wood to hit into a double play, but Rodriguez doubled to score a run. Izturis followed with a double of his own for a 3-2 score.

"The cutter [fastball] to Rodriguez was a really stupid pitch," said Burnett. "I didn't throw any warming up and 70 pitches in I decided to throw one, so that's when I really struggled a little bit."

Burnett's sixth appeared to be going swimmingly when he struck out Guerrero and Anderson, but the Angels fought back. Hunter was walked, and Kotchman and Mathis followed with singles to tie the game.

Overbay hit a 2-2 slider from Santana into the second deck in right to regain the lead, and the Toronto bullpen held firm.

"It seems like I don't get a lot of pitches to hit, and when I do, I end up fouling them off.," said Overbay. "I hadn't put a good swing on a slider in a while, so that was good for the confidence."

The Blue Jays had a chance to pad their lead in the eighth but after Overbay doubled with two outs, Shannon Stewart — who went 2-for-4 on the night — struck out.

Los Angeles (28-21) have a 2½ game lead over the idle Oakland Athletics in the American League West.

Toronto's Roy Halladay (4-5) is expected to take the mound for the Blue Jays on Friday, with Zack Greinke (5-1) getting the ball for the Royals.

With files from the Canadian Press

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