Blue Jays 8 Indians 5
CLEVELAND — Ricky Romero was fooled once already by his manager. This time, he wasn’t giving the ball up so easily.
Romero was nearing 100 pitches when he allowed a leadoff double in the sixth. Toronto manager Cito Gaston headed for the mound, but Romero didn’t budge.
“I wasn’t prepared to give him the ball,” Romero said. “I was going to keep it in my glove until he took it out. This was my game.”
Gaston didn’t want the ball, he wanted to show confidence in his blossoming ace. Gaston returned to the dugout and Romero responded by pitching Toronto to an 8-5 win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.
Romero (3-1) struggled through six innings, allowing a season high five runs. He struck out nine, but five of those came in the first two innings. He threw three wild pitches, hit a batter and was charged with a throwing error while attempting a pickoff.
“Ricky is a battler,” Gaston said. “He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to come back and win. That’s all we can ask for.”
Jose Bautista homered for the second straight game and the Blue Jays benefited from nine walks. Five of those were charged to Indians starter Jake Westbrook, who survived just 3 2-3 innings but left with a no decision. Reliever Jensen Lewis (2-1) walked three in the sixth to take the loss.
Kevin Gregg pitched the ninth for his seventh save in as many chances. Toronto pitchers struck out 13.
Westbrook has battled tightness and soreness in his back since his last start on April 28, but wouldn’t use it as an excuse. The Indians gave him a 4-1 lead after three innings, but he couldn’t hold it.
“I just didn’t pitch very well,” he said. “I got a lead and I couldn’t hold it again. That’s frustrating for me.”
The Indians scored four runs in the third when six straight batters reached with two outs. Shin-Soo Choo’s two-run single and Jhonny Peralta’s two-run double gave Cleveland as many runs as it had in its previous 20 innings combined. The Indians have scored 47 of their 91 runs this year with two outs in an inning.
But Cleveland’s pitchers struggled finding the plate.
“They’re very aggressive, but we still walked nine guys,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “They lead the league in home runs, but they also lead the league in strikeouts. We’ve got to make pitches. We didn’t. We haven’t in two days.”
The Indians lost to Toronto on Monday and have now dropped five straight series.
All of the walks and key hits made a winner out of Romero, who learned a valuable lesson in his first start of the season at Texas. Gaston came out for a visit in the middle of an inning and Romero thought his day was done. He held the ball out for his manager to take and began walking off the mound when Gaston called him back.
When Lou Marson doubled Tuesday to start the sixth and Gaston headed toward the mound again, Romero stood his ground. With the left-handed hitting Luis Valbuena due up, Romero knew he was staying in the game. Romero struck out Valbuena and retired the next two batters on flyouts to get out of the inning holding a 6-5 lead.
“He shows confidence in me,” Romero said. “I’m going to go out there and battle. That’s what I did.”
NOTES: Cleveland was playing without leadoff hitter Asdrubal Cabrera, who’ll miss the next few days with a strained left quadriceps muscle. Cabrera is expected back Friday. … Indians closer Kerry Wood allowed four hits and six runs in two-thirds of an inning in his first rehab appearance at double-A Akron on Monday. Indians manager Manny Acta wasn’t concerned with the results. “The main thing is he came in and told us he feels good,” Acta said. Wood is scheduled to pitch again Wednesday. … Toronto pitchers have allowed one homer in their last 89 innings, dating to April 24 at Tampa Bay. … No. 9 hitter Travis Snider went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, raising his average 26 points to .193. Snider is 5- for-9 in the series. … The Blue Jays lead the league with 122 extra-base hits.