Scoring spree lifts Jays over Mariners

Scoring spree lifts Jays over Mariners

TORONTO -- There was a moment in the Blue Jays' 8-3 win over the Mariners on Saturday when Toronto manager Cito Gaston paid a visit to the mound to talk to his starter David Purcey.

The rookie left-hander, who was making his third career Major League start, had already surrendered a two-run home run in the inning and subsequently allowed two more runners to reach base, before Gaston decided to speak to the hurler.

Thinking that Gaston was visiting the hill to remove him, Purcey handed the baseball to his manager and in turn received a surprise. Gaston told him that he didn't want the ball.

"That was a great moment because normally when I see a manager come out, it means that you're done and they're going to go to the bullpen," explained Purcey with a smile.

But Gaston had other plans. He told Purcey to simply go out and get the next hitter.

Purcey (1-1) did just that as, seeming to feed off the confidence from his manager, he retired Seattle's Yuniesky Betancourt on a groundout. The play put the finishing touch on Purcey's outing, in which he earned his first Major League victory.

The southpaw delivered a solid outing for Toronto (53-51), while in turn the offense was able to provide more than enough run support. The victory gave the Jays five straight wins, which ties a season high. Toronto also pushed its record under Gaston, who took over as manager on June 20, to 18-12.

Gaston viewed the decision to leave Purcey in the game during the sixth inning as important.

"It was for me and I hope it was for him, because I wanted to see him finish that inning anyway," Gaston said. "He did a good enough job."

Purcey ended his outing having surrendered three runs on seven hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out four, needing 99 pitches. The 26-year-old had started two games earlier in the season for Toronto, though both occasions were just spot starts. After each of those outings, he was sent right back to the Minors. He did not fare well in those games, compiling an 11.05 ERA over just 7 1/3 innings.

This time around, though, the Jays have indicated that they would like to give Purcey -- the club's No. 1 selection in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft -- an extended look. It was something that he found helpful.

"It's really comforting," he said. "It's nice to know that they're giving me a couple games just to see how it goes. Hopefully I can go out and relax like I did today and just try to put up a good game and keep us in the games."

Purcey's time with the Jays also took on added significance on Saturday, as the team revealed that injured starter Dustin McGowan would require season-ending surgery on his right shoulder. McGowan has been on the disabled list since making an early exit from his start on July 8.

"It's a real tough blow to us because he's one of the guys on the team that certainly make a difference as far as the pitchers and the rotation," Gaston said of McGowan. "You have just got to hope that everything comes out all right with him and he's back here next year with us."

With McGowan out, Gaston has already indicated that Purcey will be on the Jays' starting staff for the foreseeable future.

"You could say that," said the manager. "It's always nice to have a left-handed starter in there, too. If he can continue to go out and pitch like he did today -- just give us a chance to win ballgames, and that's what he did."

In Saturday's affair, Purcey received plenty of support as the Toronto offense was able to get to Mariners (38-65) starter R.A. Dickey (2-6) early and often, tagging the right-hander for eight runs through his 5 1/3 innings.

Leading the way for the Jays was Alex Rios, who collected two home runs, and along with a sacrifice fly, drove in three runs in the game. Jays second baseman Joe Inglett also drove in two runs while going 3-for-4 at the plate.

The two home runs for Rios, though, continue his hot hitting at the plate. Over the last week, he has hit .344 (11-for-32) with four home runs, four doubles and eight RBIs.

Rios credited a more relaxed approach at the plate for his success.

"I think I'm just a little more relaxed than I was before," he said. "I think that's the biggest part about it.

"I've been having pretty good at-bats and that's what I was trying to do," he added. "Get quality at-bats and go from there."

David Singh is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.