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(Sunday, May 4th)
Final Score: Toronto 7, Pittsburgh 2
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Colby Rasmus set the tone with a second- inning grand slam and Dustin McGowan turned in his best start of the season in the Toronto Blue Jays' 7-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Rasmus went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored, while McGowan (2-1) held the Pirates to three hits and a run over seven sharp innings to help Toronto avoid a three-game series sweep. It was the oft-injured right-hander's longest stint since the 2008 season.
Melky Cabrera also had three hits, including a two-run homer, for the Blue Jays, who had lost eight of 10 entering Sunday's clash.
Both Toronto blasts were served up by Edinson Volquez (1-3), with the Pittsburgh starter tagged for six runs over five innings.
Josh Harrison tripled twice and scored both Pirate runs to pace Pittsburgh offensively.
Volquez was working with a 1-0 lead when he issued consecutive walks to Edwin Encarnacion and Juan Francisco to begin the top of the second inning. After an infield single by Brett Lawrie loaded the bases, Rasmus launched a full-count curveball into the right-field deck to send Toronto ahead.
"[Volquez] painted himself in a corner with those walks, and a chopped ball in the infield and all of a sudden you're looking at bases loaded and they've hit the ball one time," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "And then he painted himself in a corner and threw the 3-2 breaking ball right in [Rasmus'] swing zone."
McGowan permitted just a single and a walk over the next three frames to maintain the Blue Jays' three-run advantage, which Cabrera extended in the fifth by following a Jose Reyes double with a line-drive homer over the wall in right center.
McGowan continued to keep the Pirates' bats in check over the remainder of his outing. After surrendering a leadoff single to Chris Stewart in the bottom of the fifth, the 32-year-old closed out a strong effort by setting down eight of the last nine batters he faced.
"It was good to get a win for this team," said McGowan. "It was something we needed and maybe it will give us a little boost going forward."
Rasmus and Erik Kratz had base hits in front of Dioner Navarro's pinch-hit RBI single off Jared Hughes in the eighth to lengthen Toronto's lead to 7-1.
Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays' first-round pick of the 2012 draft, relieved McGowan in the bottom of the eighth and was reached for a run in his big league debut. Harrison tripled off the rookie with one out and crossed the plate on an Andrew McCutchen sac fly to account for the final score.
Harrison also tripled while leading off the top of the first and was sent home on a Neil Walker groundout to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 edge.
Hurdle and first base coach Rick Sofield were both ejected by home plate umpire Greg Gibson for arguing a called third strike that ended the fourth inning ... Toronto's Jose Bautista had a 13-game hitting streak snapped after going 0-for-3, but drew a walk and has now reached base in all 31 contests this season, the longest to start a year in the majors since Cincinnati's Joey Votto in 2011 ... Rasmus' slam was the fourth of his career and first since June 23, 2012 at Miami ... McGowan, who has missed much of the last five seasons due to multiple shoulder surgeries, threw 7 1/3 innings in a loss to Atlanta on June 27, 2008.
05/04 19:44:06 ET