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Johnson to stay in Blue Jays' rotation

Johnson to stay in Blue Jays' rotation

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Johnson to stay in Blue Jays' rotation

SEATTLE -- Josh Johnson will stay in the Blue Jays' rotation after throwing five scoreless innings in Tuesday's 7-2 win over the Mariners. The veteran right-hander, who won just his second game of what has been a disappointing season, is being evaluated on a start-by-start basis.

Tuesday brought a lot of firsts for Johnson -- his first win since June 23, his first road win of the season, the first time he did not allow a run since June 17, and the first time he did not allow a home run since July 9. The results were mostly due to a simple mechanical fix.

"I was staying on top of the baseball," Johnson said. "Once you stay on top of the baseball, you can do a lot of things."

"He's moving the ball well, locating his fastball," said Josh Thole, who was behind the plate on Tuesday. "We were pretty much able to throw any pitch when we wanted."

Toronto manager John Gibbons said he liked what he saw from the battery of Johnson and Thole, and will keep it together the next time through the rotation. Thole normally catches knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, and occasionally spells regular backstop J.P. Arencibia. Gibbons, though, wasn't ready to commit to Thole being Johnson's personal catcher.

Thole doesn't give the Blue Jays the best offensive weapon when he's in the lineup, as he entered Wednesday with an .098 batting average and only one extra base hit. But he went 2-for-5 with a two-run double and a run in Wednesday's 9-7 loss to the Mariners to up his average to .121. He got his third straight start with Arencibia a late scratch because of a sore left knee.

Gibbons isn't too worried about Thole's stats.

"In all fairness to him, he gives you a good at-bat and he's had some tough luck this year," Gibbons said. "He sure as heck is swinging it better than the numbers indicate. It's tough in that role to string anything together.

"I think he's definitely doing a good job for what he's been called on to do."

Josh Liebeskind is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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