The thought heading into Romero's start against the Chicago White Sox was the Toronto left-hander was finally turning the corner in what has been a difficult 2012 campaign. But after watching his teammates mount an impressive comeback to tie the score, Romero put the Blue Jays back in harm's way and could only watch Adam Dunn anchor a five-run seventh inning that led the White Sox to a 9-5 victory.
Toronto (55-62) erased a 4-0 Chicago lead with one run in the fifth when Omar Vizquel stole third and scored after being hit by Chicago catcher A.J Pierzynski's throw to third. Then in the sixth, Kelly Johnson's three-run homer, his 14th of the season, made it 4-4 after Edwin Encarnacion's leadoff single and David Cooper's ground-rule double.
But Romero (8-10) opened the seventh by walking Alejandro De Aza and plunking Kevin Youkilis before Jays manager John Farrell brought in reliever Brad Lincoln to face Dunn even though Romero had retired Dunn (strikeout, two groundouts) earlier in the contest.
The move backfired as Dunn sent right-hander Lincoln's 2-0 pitch into the second deck for his major league-leading 34th homer to put Chicago (64-52) ahead 7-4. Dayan Viciedo added a two-run shot — his 18th of the season — off Lincoln to put the White Sox ahead 9-4.
"He's the manager, he makes the decisions and I can't do anything about that," said Romero, who was visibly upset walking to the dugout after being yanked. "Nothing against the bullpen but as a starting pitcher you get into a mess like that you want to get out of it."
Farrell took the blame for the loss, Toronto's 13th in 17 games and second straight to Chicago.
"That one is clearly on me for running (Lincoln) in to Adam Dunn in that situation," he said. "Even though (Romero) had punched out Dunn . . . I just felt the way we battled back I went to a fresh arm and it did not work out."
Lincoln said he felt strong against Dunn but paid dearly for falling behind in the count.
"I had to come back and try to get back into the count and (Dunn) was ready for it," Lincoln said. "That's on my shoulders that I didn't throw strike one and get ahead and try to go to work on him.
"Even the second homer, getting behind in the count and leaving pitches up in the zone is going to get you hurt more times than not."
Added Dunn: "When it was 2-0, I was probably pretty sure (about a fastball). I didn't care what the pitch was, I just wanted to make sure it was on the plate. I didn't want to go chasing stuff like I've been doing."
Romero surrendered six earned runs and eight hits over six innings with five strikeouts and two walks. He also hit two batters in losing his ninth straight decision and has allowed six or more runs in five of his last 10 starts.
"I felt great," Romero said. "It feels like I haven't got rewarded all year with anything that I do.
"I'm feeling good, I've had great weeks of workouts and bullpen sessions and am right where I want to be and obviously the numbers don't dictate that. I know where I am mentally and physically. I'm feeling good, you just have to continue to work."
Dewayne Wise also homered and drove in four runs for Chicago, which has won 14 of its last 21 games but earned just its fifth win in 20 contests at Rogers Centre.
Jeff Mathis had a solo homer, his seventh, in the ninth inning for Toronto.
Winner Gavin Floyd (9-9) went six innings, allowing four runs (three earned) and eight hits with eight strikeouts for American League Central-leading Chicago. The victory snapped Floyd's three-start winless streak and marked the first time since 2006 that the White Sox have won consecutive games in Toronto.
Chicago opened the scoring with two in the second, thanks to Wise's bases-loaded single. Pierzynski, Alex Ramirez, Viciedo and Wise all singled to open the frame, with Toronto left-fielder Edwin Encarnacion making a nice diving attempt at Wise's hit but failing to make the catch.
But Encarnacion lay against the wall grasping his shoulder as the two Chicago runs scored before getting up and throwing the ball back into the infield. Encarnacion remained in the game and Romero got Orlando Hudson to fly out and fanned De Aza before Youkilis flied out to end the threat.
Wise's two-run shot in the fourth put Chicago ahead 4-0. Wise, who came into the game with just 10 runs-batted in, also brought home Viciedo, who walked.
NOTES — Pierzynski extended his hitting streak to 16 games with leadoff single in the second, the longest active streak in the majors . . . Hudson left in the sixth with a bruised left toe. X-rays were negative . . . Toronto's Aaron Laffey (3-3, 4.72 ERA) faces Chicago's Francisco Liriano (3-10, 5.35 ERA) in a battle of left-handers in the series finale Thursday. On Friday, the Blue Jays will open a three-game series with the Texas Rangers to conclude a 10-game homestand. Ryan Dempster (1-1, 8.31 ERA), a native of Gibsons, B.C., is scheduled to go to the mound Saturday for Texas against Toronto's Carlos Villanueva. ... Attendance at Rogers Centre was 20,119.