TORONTO (AP) — In a span of three straight pitches, Nick Tepesch’s night suddenly turned sour.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run double, Neil Wagner earned his first major league win and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Tepesch and the Texas Rangers 6-1 on Friday night.
The rookie right-hander looked strong through the first five innings, allowing just Melky Cabrera’s solo home run. But his outing went south in the sixth, which started with ninth-hitter Munenori Kawasaki being hit by a breaking ball. Cabrera singled and Jose Bautista walked to load the bases for Encarnacion, who lined a first-pitch double to score two runs.
The next two batters, Adam Lind and J.P. Arencibia, both hit sacrifice flies on the first pitch.
“It happened fast,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “They jumped on everything quick.”
Tepesch (3-5) lost for the fourth time in his past five decisions, allowing a career-high six runs and five hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out six.
“I thought they were pretty decent pitches,” he said of the sequence that sealed his fate. “They just came out ambushing. They’re good hitters.”
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski said Tepesch was a victim of tough luck.
“If he pitches like he did tonight, he’s going to win a lot of games,” Pierzynksi said. “He shouldn’t hang his head. He threw the ball well.”
Washington felt the same way about Tepesch, who has not won since May 12 at Houston.
“For five innings there he was moving his ball around and keeping it down, staying off the fat part of the zone,” Washington said. “That one inning they just got him.”
Texas batters struck out 13 times as the slumping Rangers lost for the seventh time in 11 games.
“It happens,” Washington said. “We’re in a little funk right now as far as putting runs on the board.”
Texas struck out a season-high 15 times in a 5-3 loss at Arizona on May 27.
Four Toronto relievers combined for five shutout innings and erased the only hit they allowed, Jeff Baker’s leadoff single in the seventh, on a double play.
Toronto’s bullpen has pitched 17 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings since a 17-inning loss at San Diego on May 31.
“Everyone in the bullpen is throwing well,” Wagner said. “It’s good to know that if you come in and you struggle, you have three or four guys that might come in the game after you that are all just dominating. It’s a fun group to be a part of.”
Cabrera scored twice and drove in two runs to help the Blue Jays win for the ninth time in 13 home games, dating to May 5.
Making his second start of the season, Blue Jays right-hander Esmil Rogers allowed one run and three hits in four innings. He walked one and fanned a season-high six.
“He did a good job after the first inning, kind of quieted us down,” Pierzynski said.
Aaron Loup struck out four of the five batters he faced, Wagner (1-0) pitched 1 1-3 innings, Brett Cecil worked the eighth and Steve Delabar fanned two in the ninth.
“Once they got the lead, it was tough,” Pierzynski said.
Texas opened the scoring in the first when Jurickson Profar hit a one-out single, went to second on Rogers’ balk and scored on Adrian Beltre’s single.
Tepesch retired the first nine batters in order, striking out the side in the second, before Cabrera tied it with a leadoff homer in the fourth. The second-deck blast was his third homer of the season.
Toronto tacked on more in the seventh when Kawasaki hit a two-out single, snapping an 0-for-16 slump, and scored on Cabrera’s base hit to right, charging home when the relay throw went to second base.
Rangers first baseman Chris McGuiness made his major league debut, going 0 for 3 with a strikeout.
NOTES: RHP Chien-Ming Wang opted out of his minor league contract with the New York Yankees and plans to sign with Toronto. The Blue Jays’ 4.56 ERA is 28th in the major leagues. … Toronto recalled C Josh Thole and selected INF Andy LaRoche from Triple-A Buffalo. C Henry Blanco was designated for assignment. … Following the game, the Blue Jays activated RHP Dustin McGowan off the 60-day DL and optioned RHP Todd Redmond to Buffalo. … Toronto manager John Gibbons said 3B Brett Lawrie is wearing a walking boot on his injured left ankle. Lawrie went on the 15-day DL May 28. … Washington said Beltre will not play defense in any of the three games on Toronto’s turf, limiting him to DH duties. … Texas OF Nelson Cruz and 1B Lance Berkman got the day off. Washington said Cruz has been bothered by soreness in his hamstrings. … Former Texas C Ivan Rodriguez was elected Friday as the 16th member of the Rangers’ Hall of Fame.