Toronto keeps big bats out, clubs five HRs in finale

Encarnacion hits pair of home runs, including career No. 200

Toronto keeps big bats out, clubs five HRs in finale

TORONTO -- When the Blue Jays win at home, they win big.

That fact may have been been inflated by the consecutive offensive outbursts they had against the Phillies at Rogers Centre this week, including Thursday night's 12-6 decision, but heading into their four-game weekend series against the Angels, the Blue Jays are outscoring opponents 54-15 when they win in Toronto.

After shutting out the Phillies 10-0 a night before, the Blue Jays' bats erupted for five homers in their fifth straight win.

"We're some kind of hot right now," said manager John Gibbons. "We've got some pretty good hitters in there, and they're all swinging. It's dangerous, and you put us in this ballpark, it's home run heaven out there."

The Blue Jays hit five home runs Thursday, totalling 11 in their previous four contests -- all wins against the Phillies -- to increase their season total to an American League-leading 49 through 35 games.

Their 178 runs are second-most among AL teams.

Edwin Encarnacion, who homered in his third straight game, smacked two on Thursday and had three RBIs to lead the Blue Jays. His solo shot in the second inning was his fifth of the season and the 200th of his career.

Juan Francisco homered for the second straight night and was 3-for-3 at the plate.

Francisco, who was signed to a Minor League contract in April, has carried a big bat since getting called up to the Blue Jays, but there have been questions about where he fits into the lineup when Brett Lawrie returns from his hamstring injury.

The 26-year-old has been filling in at third base and has contributed mostly sound defense, although it's his bat that's been doing the talking.

"We'll find a way to get him at bats, I'll put it that way," Gibbons said. "He deserves it. We're better with him in there. It sure looks that way to me."

The fact that 18 of the runs the Blue Jays have generated in the past three games have came against A.J. Burnett, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee is a testament to the offensive ability the team possesses.

"We're not beating average Joes," said Gibbons. "We're taking it to some pretty good [pitchers]."

Burnett, a former Blue Jay, was dealt the loss for the visitors on Thursday, allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits over six innings. He gave up three home runs.

R.A. Dickey earned the win on the mound. The 39-year-old knuckleballer pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed three runs on seven hits. He threw two wild pitches, walked three and struck out a season-high eight hitters.

It was the third consecutive start he hasn't allowed a home run. Through eight starts last season, he'd given up eight. This year he's surrendered three.

The power-hitting Encarnacion kick-started the Blue Jays' offense, taking a 1-1 offering from Burnett deep to left field and into the second deck, tying the game at 1 in the bottom of the second.

That spurred a rally that saw Francisco double to left before he advanced to third on a wild pitch.

Adam Lind brought him home on a groundout, and it was 2-1 Blue Jays. Colby Rasmus then let loose his ninth homer of the season to make it 3-1 Blue Jays after two.

"It's something that we knew we could do," Encarnacion said of his team's prowess at the plate. "We have a good ballclub with a lot of guys that can swing the bat. If we continue to swing the bat the way we are right now, we're going to have a great year."

In the third, Jose Reyes got in on the action, leading off the inning with a ground-rule double before swiping third -- his first of two stolen bases on the night. He later scored for a 4-1 lead.

Those four runs were more than Burnett had given up in his previous four starts combined, and the eight hits the Blue Jays put up by the fourth inning were the most he'd allowed all season.

"I wasn't on the corners at all. Sinker was middle. And that's what big league hitters are going to do to you when balls are running over the middle of the plate," said Burnett. "The hook was inconsistent. Had it at times. But that's the bottom line -- ball wasn't on the corners, they were on the middle of the plate."

Encarnacion and Francisco hit back-to-back blasts in the seventh off Phils reliever Luis Garcia.

Lind made his return to the lineup felt. The designated hitter came off the 15-day disabled list with a bang, knocking a two-run shot over the left-field wall in the sixth to put the game out of reach.

With his single in the seventh inning, Bautista has reached base safely in all 35 games this season, the longest such streak in the Major Leagues.

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.