Blue Jays get sweet relief after Hutchison hurt

Blue Jays get sweet relief after Hutchison hurt

Blue Jays get sweet relief after Hutchison hurt
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' bullpen came to the rescue on Friday night after yet another starter was forced to leave early because of an injury.

Drew Hutchison's night came to an end after just nine pitches because of soreness in his right elbow, and once again the relief corps was prematurely pressed into action.

Carlos Villanueva carried the heaviest burden, tossing four scoreless innings to pick up the slack, and Brett Lawrie recorded a pair of doubles to lead the Blue Jays to a 3-0 victory over the Phillies at Rogers Centre.

"The feeling in the dugout was almost a rallying point, to be honest with you," manager John Farrell said. "Adversity brings out characteristics in everybody, and we're right in the heart of that.

"We'll sort this out. We've got to navigate through some uncertainty right now with who's going to be in our rotation, but we've got internal candidates to turn to, and we'll continue on."

Hutchison, who departed with two outs in the first inning, became the third starter to go down in four games, as the club lost Brandon Morrow and Kyle Drabek to the 15-day disabled list earlier this week.

Villanueva, 28, entered in the third inning after Aaron Laffey had thrown 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Villanueva allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out five.

The strong relief appearance could be enough to allow him to enter the mix for the rotation, which likely has two vacancies even after lefty Brett Cecil was promoted to the big leagues on Friday.

Villanueva served in a similar role last year, so he knows what to expect. He began the 2011 season in the bullpen but eventually was promoted to the rotation after a series of injuries and subpar performances hampered the staff.

"I'll do whatever they want me to do," said Villanueva, who has made 40 career starts. "This is my seventh season. I think I've gotten stats in every single category -- win, loss, save, hold, blown save, everything.

"For me it's just another day at the office. Get ready in the first, get ready in the ninth. I guess it's good to have someone that's versatile like that, and I really don't mind it. If they want me to come in the second inning, whenever, if I feel good, I'll do whatever they want me to do."

In total, five relievers combined to throw 8 1/3 scoreless frames. Right-hander Casey Janssen entered in the ninth to record his first save since May 30, and Toronto held its opposition scoreless for the first time since Morrow recorded a shutout on June 6 in Chicago.

The extended innings from the bullpen likely will force the Blue Jays into making another series of roster moves prior to Saturday afternoon's game, but for now the club can be thankful the relievers came through when they were needed the most.

"Just an outstanding effort on the part of the bullpen," Farrell said. "I can't say enough about the way the [relievers] continued to come out and put up zeros all night."

The performance of the bullpen helped overshadow yet another quiet night at the plate for the offence. The bats struggled, but they at least made the most of their opportunities against right-hander Vance Worley.

The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the third, when Rajai Davis and Lawrie recorded back-to-back doubles for the first run of the game.

Toronto added a pair of runs in the fourth thanks to a defensive miscue by Phillies third baseman Mike Fontenot. After a leadoff single by Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion followed with a ground ball to third that appeared to be tailor-made for a double play.

Fontenot's throw to second, though, sailed well wide of the bag and into right field. The error allowed Bautista to score all the way from first base, while Encarnacion advanced to third; he would later score on a grounder by Yunel Escobar.

It was the seventh time in eight games the Blue Jays did not score more than three runs, but this time it was enough to snap a three-game losing streak.

"We didn't have a very good game, although Worley pitched real good," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "It was a bullpen game for them. ... When you get right down to it, they outplayed us."

As for Villanueva, he'll be ready if needed to fill in as an emergency starter next week. His four frames of work on Friday was just one-third of a frame shy of his season high, which was set on May 25 in Texas.

"I guess I'm stretched out for four innings right now, because that's what I've gone both times," he said. "But I felt fine that last inning. I got less tired today than the game in Texas -- the weather was a little different, it's not as humid here.

"Maybe I could have gone out there again the next inning, and I know I was in the mid-60s pitch count. It will be interesting to see. I know the last time I bounced back pretty well after I threw the 4 1/3 innings, and hopefully I bounce back the same way."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.