TORONTO - Vernon Wells admits that emotion nearly took over when the crowd at Rogers Centre gave him a standing ovation.
The former Blue Jays star stepped back and raised his helmet in acknowledgment as he made his first plate appearance in Toronto in another team's uniform.
"I just tried to hold back the emotion in that moment," Wells said after the Los Angeles Angels had defeated the Blue Jays 5-1 on Friday.
"I didn't think there would be much but there was and I just tried to enjoy it an obviously not be a crybaby at home plate. It's just a moment I'll never forget."
When Wells stepped into the batter's box in the second inning, the first pitch former teammate Brandon Morrow threw to him was a sloppy slider.
Wells hit it over the centre-field fence for his 17th homer of the season to give the Angels a 1-0 lead. And just as suddenly there were boos as he rounded the bases.
"He was pumped," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's a great moment for Vernon, He left some foot prints here, he played very well for a long time. For him to hit a home run the first pitch he sees in his old stomping grounds, it's a terrific moment. He was excited to be here. He had (his) whole family here."
Wells, who plays left field for the Angels, also threw out Jose Molina, who was trying from a triple in the bottom of the third with the Angels leading 4-0.
While the Angels (65-54) provided the defence and enough runs, right-hander Ervin Santana (9-8) held the Blue Jays to seven hits and two walks to win his fifth successive decision with his fourth complete game of the season.
Eric Thames hit his sixth homer of the season with one out in the ninth to spoil Santana's attempt for his second shutout this season.
"Everything is working how I want," Santana said. "It is a nice feeling especially in the second half when we need it."
Morrow (8-7) allowed five runs, four earned, on four hits and four walks as Toronto (59-59) made three errors on the night.
"I didn't have a very good slider early," Morrow said. "That was the pitch Vernon hit out. I mean him and (Torii) Hunter almost went back to back on pretty much the same pitch. I just couldn't put a guy away when I needed to."
Alberto Callaspo singled in one and Hunter doubled in two as the Angels tacked on three two-out runs in the third inning to take a 4-0 lead.
The inning started with a walk by Peter Bourjos and a sacrifice by Bobby Wilson before Callaspo singled to right with two out to score Bourjos. A throwing error by right-fielder Jose Bautista on his throw home let Callaspo reach second, then Bobby Abreu walked and Hunter doubled to right.
Wells flied out to right to end the inning but not before he was booed as he went to the plate.
Wells tormented his former team in the bottom of the third. Jose Molina hit one-out blast to centre field that Bourjos could not haul in. The ball bounced off the fence and was picked up by Wells, who threw to third for the out as Molina tried for a triple.
The Angels scored an unearned run in the sixth when Bautista was charged with his second throwing error of the game on Russell Branyan's double. It scored Hunter, who reached first base when the Blue Jays infield lost his pop-up in the twilight. Morrow attempted to make the out but missed and was charged with an error.
"I don't know if it's a lack of concentration," said Toronto manager John Farrell. "We've misplayed some balls, there's no question about it. We've got to play better on defence. That's one thing that we do have the ability to control that isn't within our abilities to execute like that.
"Are they going to happen? Yeah, they are, but when they come in bunches they start to look glaring."
As for Wells, he was still basking in the moment after the game.
"My kids miss being here," Wells said. "This has been a special place in my life. It's a place where I got to grow up and become who we are today. So I owe a lot to this city."