LI's Marcus Stroman handed first MLB loss versus Phil Hughes, Twins
TORONTO - For the first time, Toronto Blue Jays rookie Marcus Stroman wound up on the wrong side.
The Minnesota Twins sent the Medford native to his first loss in three starts since joining the rotation on May 31, beating the Blue Jays 7-2 Wednesday.
Stroman (3-1) allowed three runs and a season-high nine hits in six innings. He walked none and struck out four.
"Definitely didn't have my best stuff," Stroman said. "I was up in the zone a lot."
Manager John Gibbons said Stroman gave the Blue Jays all he could despite pitching with flulike symptoms.
"He gutted it out," Gibbons said.
Stroman surrendered his second home run and first since May 11 when Josh Willingham connected in the first as the Twins took a 2-0 lead in the opening inning for the third straight game.
"It was probably the worst pitch of the outing," Stroman said. "One of those that was supposed to be buried but it just kind of hung up there."
Toronto has allowed its opponent to open the scoring in seven consecutive games, losing four.
Trevor Plouffe made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly in the sixth and the Twins added three more in the seventh against reliever Bobby Korecky. A pair of infield singles and a walk loaded the bases before Kendrys Morales hit a three-run double.
Willingham capped it with an RBI single off Brett Cecil in the ninth.
Phil Hughes (7-2) allowed seven hits and walked none in seven shutout innings for his first win at Rogers Centre since July 17, 2011, when he played for the Yankees. The right-hander is 7-1 with a 2.27 ERA in his past 10 starts.
Hughes said he struggled with his command early, but the problem didn't last.
"I felt like I kind of found myself in the third or fourth inning and was able to ride that through," he said.
Kendrys Morales had three of Minnesota's season-high 16 hits as the Twins improved to 5-2 against Toronto. Morales is 6 for 13 with three RBIs since making his Twins debut on Monday.
"Pretty amazing," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It doesn't look like he hasn't played in a long time."
Back-to-back singles by Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera gave the Blue Jays runners at the corners with nobody out in the sixth, but Hughes didn't buckle. Jose Bautista fouled out and Hughes fanned Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind.
The Blue Jays avoided their fourth shutout in five games with a pair of runs off Jared Burton in the eighth. Bautista hit an RBI double and scored on a single by pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro.
Casey Fien got the final four outs for his first save as the Twins improved to 12-6 against AL East opponents.
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier left in the bottom of the fourth inning with a sore lower back. Already tight from playing two games on turf, Dozier was kneed in the back by shortstop Eduardo Nunez when the two collided while chasing Erik Kratz's bloop double in the second.
Eduardo Escobar replaced Dozier, who leads the Twins with 14 home runs. The Twins are off Thursday before beginning a three-game series at Detroit on Friday, and Dozier said he expects to be ready.
NOTES: Reyes celebrated his 31st birthday. ... Toronto recalled Korecky from Triple-A Buffalo before the game and optioned OF Kevin Pillar to Triple-A. Korecky was optioned back to Buffalo following the game as the Blue Jays recalled OF Darin Mastroianni. ... The Twins optioned C Josmil Pinto to Triple-A and will make a corresponding move before Friday's game at Detroit. ... Minnesota OF Aaron Hicks is being sent home to Minnesota for tests on his right shoulder. ... The Blue Jays begin a four-game series at Baltimore on Thursday. Toronto LH Mark Buehrle (10-2) faces Orioles RH Kevin Gausman (1-1).