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CLEVELAND (AP) — The highest-scoring team in the American League flexed its muscles very briefly Thursday night. The display was more than enough.
After failing to get a hit in the first three innings, Toronto burst out for a five-run fourth and defeated the Cleveland Indians 5-1.
The Blue Jays broke open a scoreless game in the space of five batters after being held hitless by TJ House.
"Top to bottom we're a tough lineup," said catcher Russell Martin, who had an RBI double in the inning. "We showed that tonight. When you start getting a couple of hits in a row, guys can kind of just piggy-back off one another."
Kevin Pillar's two-run double was the key hit and Toronto's bullpen worked the final six innings. Blue Jays starter Daniel Norris lasted only three innings, but Jeff Francis, Roberto Ozuna, Aaron Loup and Brett Cecil finished it off. Francis (1-0) allowed one run in 2 1-3 innings.
The Indians, predicted to contend for a playoff spot, end April with a 7-14 record, the worst in the AL. Cleveland is 1-9 when scoring three runs or fewer and has lost nine of 13.
"It's frustrating when you're in a funk, but you know you're going to come out of it," said right fielder Brandon Moss. "We aren't getting hits when we need them. I understand that's baseball, but it's very frustrating."
"It was a big win," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "Danny really struggled throwing strikes, but he survived it without giving up any runs. The second time through the lineup we made a nice adjustment off House."
House (0-4) didn't retire a batter in the fourth when the first five hitters reached base and scored.
Danny Valencia's RBI single and Martin's double gave Toronto the lead before Pillar doubled in two more runs, ending the night for House. Jonathan Diaz's squeeze bunt scored the fifth run.
Pillar added a spectacular catch when he ran down Moss' drive to center field in the fifth. Pillar hung on to the ball despite hitting his head against the wall and crashing to the ground.
"That's his game," Gibbons said. "He plays to win and plays like that help you win. There's times in this game you have to play with reckless abandon."
Slow starts in April are nothing new to the Indians. Cleveland went 11-13 in 2013, but qualified for the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Indians were 11-17 last April and missed the playoffs by three games.
Norris, a rookie left-hander, dodged trouble through three innings, but didn't come out of the fourth after throwing 78 pitches. Francis gave up Michael Brantley's RBI single in the fifth.
NEED TO IMPROVE
The Blue Jays finished April with a 11-12 record. "That's not terrible, but still that's not good enough for us," Gibbons said. "We've let a few games slip away that could have made a big difference."
Blue Jays: Gibbons said Bautista, who is dealing with a sore right shoulder, might play catch this weekend. Bautista hasn't played right field since April 21 and was the DH for the fourth straight game Thursday. Bautista ends the month with five homers and 13 RBIs, but is batting .164.
Indians: OF Nick Swisher (double knee surgery) will play at Triple-A Columbus on Friday and Saturday as he continues his rehab assignment. He could rejoin the Indians next week.
Blue Jays: LHP Mark Buehrle, who was roughed up for five runs and 13 hits in 5 1-3 innings against Tampa Bay on Sunday, will make his 49th career start against the Indians on Friday.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco, who allowed five runs and a season-high nine hits Sunday against Detroit, will make his first appearance at Progressive Field since being hit in the face by Melky Cabrera's line drive on April 14.
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