Jays fall as Bush remains winless

Jays fall as Bush remains winless

TORONTO -- Where's the breaking point? Dave Bush's first win remained elusive Saturday, when he sunk the Blue Jays to an early deficit and an eventual 4-3 loss against Minnesota.

"I'm frustrated, but I think everybody is. It's not just me," he said after the game. "If I pitch well, I'll get wins. They're not coming for me at all right now, but the best thing I can do is keep the same routine and keep going out there. If I could have a pitch back today, it might've been a different game. That's kind of the way it's been going."

Bush remains the only winless pitcher in Toronto's rotation, and he has more than twice as many no-decisions (five) as the next nearest pitcher. The troubling statistics don't end there. After completing five innings in five of his first six outings, the right-hander has been unable to make it that far in three of his last four starts.

Still, the latest start brought some things to build on. Two of Minnesota's runs were unearned, and Bush got out of the first inning without allowing a run for just the third time in 10 starts.

"I felt better about my outing than I have on some of the previous ones," he said. "I was getting ahead, pounding the strike zone and making them put it in play."

The Jays remain resolute about Bush's spot on the starting staff. They maintain that they don't plan on juggling the rotation anytime soon, but they won't sketch out the potential contingency plan, either. Bush is aware his struggles may eventually take him back to the Minor Leagues, but he doesn't want to let that affect the way he works.

"You try to avoid all that stuff," he said. "You can't help but think about things like that, but if you start letting it affect your routine and your preparation, you're really going to be in trouble. If that's what happens, that's what happens. I can't change any of that."

"Professional sports are tough. Especially at this level," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "The game plan here is to get the young guys established and build for the future. We want to be a good, competitive team this year, but that's part of it. If you jumped ship on everybody every time they go bad, you'd never field a team in this league. It's not an easy level to play at."

That point was hammered home Saturday, when Bush (0-5) avoided the first-inning runs only to see some damage in the second. An error by first baseman Eric Hinske allowed one run to score and extended the inning long enough for another run to come across. That meant two unearned runs for Bush, and that was all Minnesota could score in the first few innings.

The Twins came back for more in the fifth frame, when they already had a 2-1 lead. Juan Castro drove a long foul ball and drilled a leadoff homer on the next pitch, giving Minnesota some more insurance. Ex-Jay Shannon Stewart followed up with a solo shot of his own. Bush got two more outs and left the game trailing by four runs.

"The error was costly and he gave up two home runs," said Gibbons. "He was getting up in pitches and coming back on short rest. ... I don't think it was a quick hook."

"If I pitch well, I'll get wins. They're not coming for me at all right now, but the best thing I can do is keep the same routine and keep going out there."
-- Dave Bush

"I would've liked to stay in the game," said Bush, who told his manager exactly that before he left the mound. "It's his decision to make pitching changes, and he felt we were better off taking me out there. You can't argue with the way Scott Downs pitched afterwards."

Downs was impeccable, but so was Minnesota starter Kyle Lohse. The right-hander cruised through the first six frames, allowing a grand total of four hits. The home team's only run off Lohse (4-3) was helped along by a Minnesota miscue.

In the third inning, Toronto rookie Aaron Hill singled and moved to third on a throwing error before scoring on a single by Reed Johnson.

"He's like all their pitchers," Gibbons said of Lohse. "They come out and throw strikes, make you put the ball in play. They rely on their defense. Lohse has always been one of those guys whose stuff is always there, and he's aggressive.

"He's pitched good the last two times against us. And then you get to the bullpen, and it gets much tougher."

That's not the way it worked this time. The Blue Jays went quietly in the eighth and made things interesting in the ninth, when they pushed runners to second and third with one out. Hill doubled off All-Star closer Joe Nathan, giving the Jays two cracks with the tying run in scoring position.

Nathan rebounded, though, by striking out Russ Adams and coaxing a popup out of Gregg Zaun. That meant another tight loss for Toronto (26-23). The Twins, meanwhile, have won eight of their last 11 and nine of their last 13 games.

"It's nice to be feeling comfortable up there and swinging the bat well," said Hill. "But when you come down to it, it doesn't mean much to me or the team. Obviously, what we're here to do is win.

"The last two days, we've been struggling a bit, but we'll come out tomorrow. And tomorrow's a new day."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.