MINNEAPOLIS - Kevin Slowey kept throwing, and Scott Rolen just kept fouling them off.
It took Slowey 15 pitches before he finally got Rolen to groundout to shortstop in the kind of patient, hard-working at-bat Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has been looking for to jumpstart his woeful offence. Two pitches later, Matt Stairs sent a change-up soaring into the upper deck in right field, and the Blue Jays were on their way to a 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.
"Wore him out," Gibbons said proudly. "That was a huge at-bat."
Stairs reached base all three times and scored twice and Lyle Overbay and former Twin Shannon Stewart each had two hits, including RBI-doubles, for the Jays, who scored at least five runs in a game for just the second time in the last 10 games.
Carlos Gomez and Jason Kubel hit solo homers for Minnesota, but reliever Dennys Reyes was charged with his first earned run of the season after a so-so start from Kevin Slowey (0-3), and the Twins lost at home for just the second time in 13 games.
After scoring 27 runs in taking three of four from the Red Sox over the weekend, the Twins had a big let-down against Jesse Litsch (5-1) and the last-place Jays, swinging early in the count and committing a couple of defensive blunders that cost them a pair of runs.
"We didn't play good baseball," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We were just kind of a little sloppy out there."
Litsch threw just 70 pitches while giving up two runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings, and the Twins could only scrape together one more run against relievers Jesse Carlson, Jason Frasor, Armando Benitez, Scott Downs and B.J. Ryan, who picked up his sixth save in as many tries.
"You want to work the count, but you don't want to be hitting 0-2 every time," Twins second baseman Brendan Harris said.
The Blue Jays have been as miserable offensively in May as the Twins were in April. Toronto snapped a 31 1-3-inning scoreless streak with three runs in the 10th to beat Cleveland in the second game of a doubleheader on Monday night.
The Jays scored just four runs in the four-game series against the Indians and became the first team in nearly 20 years not to score a run in the first nine innings of both games of a doubleheader.
"People always say we have been struggling so bad, and we have. But it is one of those things where you have to tip your hat to the pitchers," Stairs said. "We've come across some pretty good pitchers the last two weeks. We got some big hits last night and it carried over into tonight's game."
Slowey needed 107 pitches to get through his 5 2-3 innings, giving up three runs on five hits with five strikeouts.
"Overall I thought I threw well," Slowey said. "Just not well enough."
Rolen's marathon at-bat came in the sixth, softening up the right-hander for Stairs, who hit his 21st career homer against Minnesota, his most against any team, for a 3-1 lead.
Slowey said Rolen's at-bat didn't affect his performance against Stairs, but admitted that he "didn't enjoy it."
"Scott Rolen's a great hitter and has been for a long time," Slowey said. "He was up there and he battled really hard. Whether that had any affect on my next couple of pitches, I really couldn't tell you. That's just how it went."
Toronto tacked on two more off relievers Matt Guerrier and Reyes, but the night could have been much bigger if the offence truly clicked. The Jays left eight runners on base, including six in scoring position.
"That was fun," Rolen said. "We moved the bats better. We still left some people out there, and left some opportunities open."
Notes: Overbay got caught in a hard-luck double-play in the second inning when Stewart hit a line drive right at Harris. Assuming it was going to be caught, Overbay trotted back to first. But the ball popped out of Harris' glove, and he quickly started a 4-6-3 double-play to end the inning. ... Gomez was charged with an error in the first inning when his throw from CF on a single by Hill sailed over SS Adam Everett's head and into the Twins dugout, allowing Hill to go to 3B. "I caught it in the dugout," Gardenhire said. "That's always a bad sign."
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