Burnett, Jays turn tables on Rangers

Burnett, Jays turn tables on Rangers

ARLINGTON -- Saturday's game between the Blue Jays and the Rangers had several flashback moments to the night before. Perhaps none were more evident than when B.J. Ryan took the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning nursing a two-run lead.

That was the exact situation Ryan walked into Friday night before he allowed three runs, costing Toronto the game.

"We thought we had a chance to do it two nights in a row, but it's tough to do against a closer like B.J. Ryan," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said.

The Rangers' spirits were lifted when Friday's hero, David Murphy, singled off Ryan to lead off the inning. But Ryan wasn't about to double his blown save total in a matter of 48 hours. Ryan retired the next three batters, clinching a 6-4 victory for Toronto in front of 32,641 fans at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

"That's a perfect scenario, to get back out there and put the past behind me," Ryan said. "I just knew in my mind what I did wrong and what I needed to improve upon. That's big when the guys behind you want you back out there."

As hard as Ryan took Friday's loss, a second straight blown save on Saturday might have crushed him, considering what it took for Toronto to take the lead.

The Blue Jays trailed 3-2 through five innings and their first run was practically handed to them in the first, when they scored without the benefit of a hit.

But Toronto earned every one of its runs in a four-run sixth inning.

With runners on second and third, two outs and right-hander Jamey Wright on the mound, the Rangers elected to put left-handed-hitting Matt Stairs on first and pitch to right-handed-hitting Rod Barajas.

The situation mirrored the two times Toronto walked the bases loaded for more favorable matchups on Friday night and it had the same result. Just as Murphy was motivated by Toronto's decision to pitch to him, so was Barajas.

"Absolutely," Barajas said. "As a hitter, as a competitor, any time they walk a guy to get to you, you take it as a slap in the face."

Barajas slapped the Rangers right back, sending a Wright fastball down the left-field line for a double that drove in the go-ahead run.

"It happens sometimes. I thought he did the right thing," manager Cito Gaston said of Texas manager Ron Washington's choice to pitch to Barajas. "But you have to have a little luck and the pitcher has to make the pitches necessary to get the batter out."

Scott Rolen followed Barajas' two-run double with a two-run two-bagger of his own, which capped the scoring and put Toronto and A.J. Burnett on top, 6-3.

Burnett didn't enjoy the lead long, though, getting into a jam in the bottom of the inning that put the lead in jeopardy.

Burnett couldn't nail down the third out of the sixth and let in a run. Once the Rangers put the tying run on base, Burnett was pulled. After allowing just four earned runs combined in his last four starts, Burnett allowed four earned in 5 2/3 innings on Saturday.

"He challenged those guys tonight. When I took him out, he'd thrown more than 100 pitches, which is a lot in this heat," said Gaston, referring to the 102-degree game-time temperature.

Gaston brought in Scott Downs to stamp out the rally, and Downs let his manager sit back and relax for the next 2 1/3 innings. Downs retired all seven batters he faced, striking out one, to set up Ryan's redemptive ninth inning.

Downs also helped secure Burnett's 13th victory of the season -- a 10-year career high for the right-hander. By beating the Rangers, Burnett also completed his victorious tour around the Major Leagues. Texas was the only club he had never beaten in his career entering Saturday.

"I'm just focused on my next one," said Burnett of his milestone victory. "It's good to get a career high, but I've dealt with a lot of injuries in my career. As far as I'm concerned, there are more to come. I've learned a lot over here and now I've got health on my side, too."

Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.