TORONTO (AP) Knocked down by a line drive in the first inning, Marcus Stroman nearly had a short outing. Then he stayed around to shut out the Chicago Cubs.
Stroman pitched a three-hitter for his first complete game in 18 career major league starts, and Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer for the Toronto Blue Jays in an 8-0 win over the Cubs on Monday night.
”It doesn’t get any better than that,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. ”It was a dominating performance.”
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Stroman was nearly hit in the face when Chris Coghlan led off with a line drive back up the middle. The ball struck Stroman’s glove and ricocheted to shortstop Jose Reyes, who threw to first for the out. Stroman fell on his back as he bent out of the way but was unhurt.
”That was the first time I’ve ever had a ball hit like that back at me,” Stroman said. ”I could have been out after the second pitch.”
Catcher Dioner Navarro got a laugh from the crowd when he came out to wipe the dirt off his teammate’s back.
”I was just happy it didn’t hit my face, and even happier that I was able to deflect it and Reyes was able to make a play,” Stroman said.
Stroman (10-5) struck out eight and walked none, improving to 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in his past three starts. Chicago was shut out for the 15th time this season, second in the NL behind San Diego’s 18.
”He’s got a really good arm,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said.
Bautista hit his 200th homer for Toronto, a two-out drive in the fifth off Jacob Turner (5-9) that was his eighth home run in 12 games. Bautista is fifth in home runs among Blue Jays, trailing Carlos Delgado (336), Vernon Wells (223), Joe Carter (203) and George Bell (202).
”I’m very proud and honored to have done it here,” Bautista said. ”I’m just really happy.”
Jorge Soler singled starting the second and was erased on Welington Castillo’s double-play grounder. Stroman then retired 19 straight batters before Mike Olt’s two-out single in the eighth.
Turner (5-9) allowed five runs – four earned – and seven hits in six innings.
”Definitely didn’t have my fastball command, but I felt I battled,” Turner said.
Toronto has hit at least one home run in 12 consecutive games, its longest streak since a 12-game run from Aug. 6-18, 2011.
Adam Lind reached on second baseman Logan Watkins’s error beginning the second and scored on Danny Valencia’s RBI single. Navarro’s sacrifice fly doubled the lead in the fourth.
The Cubs played on artificial turf for the first time since June 2008, when they had consecutive series at Toronto and Tampa Bay.
WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR
The Cubs open next season at home against St. Louis on April 6. Toronto begins 2015 on the road the same day at Yankee Stadium, and their home opener is April 13 against Tampa Bay.
EXTRA DAY FOR WOOD?
Renteria said the Cubs are considering using Thursday’s off day to give LHP Travis Wood an extra day of rest before his next start. Wood, who is 1-7 with a 5.86 ERA in his past 15 starts, allowed seven runs in 1 2-3 innings against Pittsburgh on Sunday, his shortest outing this season. Turner would move up a day if Wood is pushed back.
Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo (back) took grounders and hit in the batting cage. Renteria said Rizzo is feeling better but declined to predict a return date. ”I’ll reserve my optimism,” Renteria said. ”We’re going to take it slow and easy.”
Blue Jays: OF Melky Cabrera (broken finger) and RHP Chad Jenkins (broken hand) had surgery Monday. Cabrera was injured Friday on a pickoff play at Boston, and Jenkins got hurt Thursday as he tried to field a ball during batting practice.
Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta (8-5) faces Blue Jays LHP Mark Buehrle (11-9) on Tuesday. Arrieta is 1-2 with a 7.31 ERA in three career starts at Toronto. Buehrle pitched eight scoreless innings against Tampa Bay last Thursday, his longest outing since June 29.