TORONTO - Despite only being with the Toronto Blue Jays for a few weeks, Canadian Brett Lawrie is quickly developing a reputation of being a clutch hitter.
Lawrie's solo homer off Louis Coleman to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning was the difference as the Blue Jays picked up a 4-3 win on Wednesday over the visiting Kansas City Royals.
Lawrie's drive came off Louis Coleman, who had just come on in relief of starter Luke Hochevar. It was the fourth of the year for the native of Langley, B.C., and went along with an RBI triple in the fourth inning.
"It's one of those things when I get up to the plate I guess it just happens in that situation," said Lawrie, who has rapidly become a fan favourite since being called up from triple-A Las Vegas earlier this month. "Sometimes you're going to succeed and sometimes you're not but I was just fortunate to contribute tonight for this win."
Jose Bautista also went deep for the Jays (66-63) with his Major League-leading 37th homer of the season in the fourth.
Hochevar had, for the most part, kept the Jays' bats quiet. The Kansas City (53-77) starter gave up three runs, all of them in the fourth on only four hits in his six innings of work.
Ricky Romero didn't get off to the best of starts on the mound for the Jays. The club's ace hit Royals left-fielder Alex Gordon with his first pitch of the game. Gordon later came around to score on designated hitter Billy Butler's double two batters later.
"When he gave up multiple hits, he didn't come out of his game plan. He stayed with it," explained Jays' manager John Farrell. "This might have been the most hits he's given up in the last six or seven starts but it didn't cause him from going away from his overall game plan."
After a lead-off walk, Gordon crossed the plate in the third on a Butler single.
"We put three runs up on one of the best lefties in the game. You can't really say we didn't try to capitalize on (Romero's) mistakes," said Butler. "That's just how it is. Even when he's off you're only going to get three and when he's on you're going to get none."
Heading into the fourth, Hochevar had retired nine of the first 10 hitters he faced and had been working on a no-hitter.
Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Bautista tied things with one swing of the bat. The right-fielder hit a towering home run to left field with none out. His shot went off the facade above the second deck at Rogers Centre. That drove in Yunel Escobar who was on base after being hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.
Later in the inning, Lawrie came up with two outs and Edwin Encarnacion on first base. After fouling a few pitches off from Hochevar, the Canadian hit a hard line drive to a gap in left-centre field. The triple drove in Encarnacion and gave Toronto the lead.
"He started me off with a good slider and I was just fortunate to get a pitch I could drive and he hung one so it was cool," said Lawrie.
The Royals bounced back in the top of the fifth inning when Gordon scored for the third time of the night. The left-fielder drove himself in by taking Romero deep to right field for his 17th homer of the season.
"Anytime you give the team the chance to win and keep them in the game, you're happy about that. It wasn't my best performance out there but those guys battled," admitted Romero. "They hit everything I left over the plate. Those mistake pitches, they didn't miss them."
Jesse Litsch (5-3), who relieved Romero in the seventh, picked up the win for Toronto. Frank Francisco picked up his 11th save of the season after coming on to start the ninth inning after Casey Janssen's scoreless eighth.
Notes: Attendance was 18, 292 fans, below the 2011 average of 22,983…Darin Mastroianni, just called up from triple-A Las Vegas, got his first start in centre field for Toronto, going 0-2…Colby Rasmus is expected to miss 2-3 days after jarring his wrist twice on Tuesday.