ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -Marc Rzepczynski made the most of his return to the major leagues.
Rzepczynski pitched two-hit ball over seven innings in a spot start for resting Brandon Morrow, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-0 on Friday night. He retired 14 of his last 15 batters in his 14th big league start and third this season after getting recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.
``It's been an up and down year,' said Rzepczynski, whose season was delayed when a batted ball broke his left middle finger during a spring training start against the Yankees. ``Unfortunately I was hurt at the beginning, and then the last time I was up here I tried to do too much. So it was good to just stay within myself and help the team win.'
The 24-year-old left-hander, who was born in nearby Yorba Linda and lives in Riverside, made his first appearance for the Blue Jays since giving up five runs and nine hits over 4 2-3 innings at Kansas City on July 21. Among Friday night's crowd of 40,606 were a group of 20 family members and friends, including his parents.
``It was good to pitch at home and pitch in front of them because there are a lot of them who haven't seen me pitch before. So it was exciting,' Rzepczynski said. ``Warming up, I had a little bit of butterflies. But once I got out there, I told myself to slow the game down and just go out there and pitch like it was any other ballgame.'
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston decided to have Morrow skip a turn in the rotation after last Sunday's 1-0 masterpiece in which he set career highs with 137 pitches and 17 strikeouts and lost his bid for a no-hitter on Evan Longoria's two-out single in the ninth.
``They gave me the chance, and I'm glad I was able to back it up and do what they needed me to,' Rzepczynski said. ``I still felt like I had plenty left. I'm not overthrowing it anymore, like I was the last time I was up here. I felt like I could have kept going, which was a good thing.'
Scott Downs pitched the eighth and former Angels right-hander Kevin Gregg worked a perfect ninth for his 26th save in 30 chances, completing the three-hitter.
Rzepczynski (1-1) picked up his first win since last Aug. 21 against the Angels at Toronto. It also was the Blue Jays' 10th shutout, tying Oakland for the AL lead.
The Angels capped off a three-game sweep of Kansas City on Wednesday when Bobby Abreu connected in the 10th inning, but were blanked in this one for only the fourth time this season and second time at home. The Blue Jays beat them 6-0 at Angel Stadium on May 24 with 7 1-3 innings of two-hit ball by Brett Cecil.
``They're a good hitting team. So for Marc to do that and keep those guys off balance, it's a tribute to him,' Toronto first baseman Lyle Overbay said. ``It was good to see. He's got the stuff. It's just a matter of him believing it and doing it.'
Scott Kazmir (8-10) allowed two runs and four hits over six innings for Los Angeles. It was the left-hander's second impressive outing since coming off the disabled list. He was sidelined for 17 games because of shoulder fatigue, after going 0-4 with a 13.73 ERA over his previous four outings.
``I felt like I was a little erratic early on, but then I settled in after that third inning,' Kazmir said. ``I thought I was in a pretty good groove with all my pitches.'
One night after a pulsating win against Boston in which they rallied for four runs in the ninth inning against Jonathan Papelbon, the Blue Jays evened their road record at 30-30 in the opener of a nine-game trip.
``It was kind of tough, coming from Toronto to here,' said left fielder Fred Lewis, who capped the scoring with an RBI double in the seventh. ``As the game got later and later, I got kind of tired. But I couldn't let that affect me.'
Speedy Angels rookie Peter Bourjos, who has started in center field in all nine games since his promotion from Triple-A Salt Lake on Aug. 3, made a leaping attempt on Adam Lind's drive to the wall in right-center in the second inning and the ball caromed off his glove for a triple. Edwin Encarnacion drove in Lind with a single.
Bourjos robbed Aaron Hill of a bloop single in left-center in the third, but it went in the books as a sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Rzepczynski, who had hit only two batters during his first 75 innings in the big leagues, plunked Bourjos and Abreu with consecutive pitches in the third. ... Bourjos robbed Jose Bautista of an RBI double in the ninth with a diving catch after running full-speed toward the warning track. ... This is the first time this season that the Angels will face three left-handed starters in a three-game series. The others are Cecil and Ricky Romero. ... Angels manager Mike Scioscia met with struggling rookie INF Brandon Wood before batting practice and told him it would be in his and the club's best interests that he play winter ball.
The Associated Press News Service
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