"I'm happy about the win, but I'm very unhappy about the way we played."
There were positives for the Blue Jays (35-31). The team ended a string of six straight losses in Interleague Play to begin the season. Left-hander Ricky Romero logged seven solid innings, featuring a strong curveball, and center fielder Vernon Wells snapped an 0-for-21 slump with a pair of hits.
Romero did well in keeping the score close while Toronto's offense struggled to solve Philadelphia ace Cole Hamels during his six innings on the hill. Following Hamels' exit, the Blue Jays made up for coming up empty in a handful of prime scoring chances with a rally against the Philadelphia bullpen, piecing together six runs over the final two frames.
That was the extent of the good.
"We certainly could've made it easier on ourselves tonight," Gaston said.
Gaston had plenty of reason to be upset. The Toronto offense was presented with bases-loaded situations against Philadelphia (36-26) in five innings, including in each of the last three frames. Overall, Toronto finished 0-for-9 with the bases full, with the only runs produced in such situations coming on a pair of walks and a sacrifice fly.
With runners in scoring position, the Blue Jays ended the night 4-for-19, and the club finished with 16 left on base. Toronto loaded the bases in the second, sixth and eighth innings, but were unable to find home plate. The sixth-inning scenario came with no outs, while the others came with one away. As strong as Hamels was, the Jays didn't do themselves any favors.
"We left a lot of guys out there tonight, and some strange things happened," said Blue Jays third baseman Scott Rolen, who delivered the go-ahead run with an RBI single off Phillies reliever Clay Condrey in the 10th inning.
One of the stranger happenings occurred in the eighth, when the Phillies clung to a 3-2 lead.
With the bags full of Blue Jays and one out, Marco Scutaro sent a pitch into the gap in left-center field. Rather than having Alex Rios tag up at third base, Toronto third-base coach Nick Leyva waved him home, appearing to think Scutaro's line drive was destined to fall in for a hit. Instead, Philadelphia left fielder Raul Ibanez tracked down the ball for an out, and Rios was forced to retreat to third.
It was a combination of errors that cost the Jays a potential run, one that would have pulled the game into a tie. The next batter, Aaron Hill, grounded out to shortstop Jimmy Rollins to bring an abrupt halt to the inning.
When asked what happened on the play at third base, Gaston sidestepped the question.
"We just screwed it up -- that's all," Gaston said. "We screwed it up. That's all I can tell you. That's all I want to tell you right now."
Toronto also lost left-hander Scott Downs to a left foot injury in the 10th inning. Gaston left Downs in the game to hit for himself, and the pitcher hurt his foot running out of the batter's box after grounding a pitch to short. X-rays on Downs' foot came back negative, but he's scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Wednesday and could be headed to the disabled list.
All the mistakes eventually were rendered moot by the Blue Jays' late rally.
With the bases loaded again in the ninth, Philadelphia closer Ryan Madson issued a walk to Lyle Overbay to force home a run and knot the score at 3. In the 10th, Condrey allowed three straight singles to help the Jays take the lead. Rios later drew another bases-loaded walk for Toronto, which then received an RBI sacrifice fly from Overbay and a two-run double from Rod Barajas to bring its lead to 8-3.
By that time, both Hamels and Romero were pinned with no-decisions.
The Jays' only runs against Hamels came in the fourth inning, when Adam Lind belted a solo homer and Kevin Millar added a run-scoring double. The Phillies plated one run off Romero in the first on an RBI single by Chase Utley, and they grabbed a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning on a two-run home run off the bat of Jayson Werth.
The comeback by the Blue Jays helped make it a little easier for Romero to get over Werth's blast.
"We battled all game," Romero said. "I was still a little upset over that home run. I felt like I didn't get that pitch out there where it should've been, and he made me paid for it. As a team, we came back and overcame a couple errors we made and got the win."
In the end, that's all the Jays cared about.