ST. LOUIS (AP) - Jose Bautista is back in the groove. His booming bat helped the Toronto Blue Jays climb out of a slump.
Bautista hit his major league-leading 23rd home run in the top of the ninth inning on a pitch that appeared to be well outside, helping the Blue Jays snap a four-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.
``We took a lot of good swings,' Toronto manager John Farrell said. ``The ninth inning obviously speaks volumes. We created a number of opportunities for ourselves, unlike the last four games.'
Bautista's one-out drive off Fernando Salas (4-2) barely cleared the wall in right field, landing just past the outstretched glove of a leaping Jon Jay and in the Cardinals' bullpen. He has homered in the last two games after hitting only one in a 22-game stretch.
``The last couple of days I've been feeling like I'm a little more on time consistently,' Bautista said. ``After that it's just getting a good pitch to hit and hitting it hard.'
Or maybe not even getting a good pitch to hit. Bautista, who earned his team-leading 12th go-ahead RBI, said he noticed on video that Salas likes to throw the fastball away.
``I don't think that pitch was a strike,' Bautista said. ``I was looking for it and, I mean it was a ball but I ended up hitting it good. I'll take it.'
Colby Rasmus and Matt Holliday homered for the Cardinals, who have lost 10 of 13 and are 1-3 without injured Albert Pujols. Salas, St. Louis' rookie closer, has allowed a homer in three of his last five appearances after permitting none his first 25 outings.
Manager Tony La Russa said he wasn't worried.
``He just missed with a pitch and got hit,' La Russa said. ``Why would I be concerned? He's done a great job.'
Bautista, due to move from the outfield to third base in the next few days to beef up a struggling offense, doubled and scored in the first, flied out to the warning track in left and drew an intentional walk.
Bautista's homer came not long after a 13-minute delay when portions of two light standards failed for the second time this month. Salas was poised to throw the first pitch of the inning before about 70 bulbs in two standards behind home plate went out and umpires stopped play.
Cardinals director of security Joe Walsh said the team suspected an electrical short. Walsh said diagnostic tests after the last failure revealed no problems.
The same sections failed with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning June 1 against the San Francisco Giants, delaying the game for 15 minutes while personnel reset circuit breakers and lights slowly came back on.
Adam Lind had a hit and two RBIs and callup Eric Thames doubled twice and scored for the Blue Jays, who were outscored 14-3 during their losing streak. Jason Frasor (2-1) worked a perfect eighth against the top of the St. Louis order and Frank Francisco finished for his eighth save in 11 chances.
Toronto starter Brandon Morrow struck out nine in seven innings, one off his season high, but the homers equaled his season total from the first 11 starts. The right-hander gave up four runs, three earned.
``Brandon had powerful stuff again,' Farrell said. ``First-pitch changeup to Rasmus, the 1-2 slider to Holliday really are the only two blemishes on what otherwise would have been a solid seven innings of work.'
Rasmus hit his first homer since June 2 in the second and Holliday's ninth was a two-run shot in the sixth that tied it at 4.
Jake Westbrook was tagged for 10 hits in 4 1-3 innings, trailing 4-2 with bases loaded when he left. Mitchell Boggs bailed him out, striking out Edwin Encarnacion and Rajai Davis.
``It looked like he was working real hard,' La Russa said of Westbrook. ``Sometimes I think the harder he works, his location is not quite as good.'
This was the fourth time that Westbrook, who has a 5.32 ERA, failed to last five innings.
``A lot of times early on I can get into a rhythm and find it, but tonight I was just kind of all over the place from the get-go,' Westbrook said. ``I know I'm a better pitcher than that.'
Cardinals rookie Lance Lynn, called up earlier in the week, allowed one hit in three scoreless innings.
NOTES: Rookie Mark Hamilton leads the Cardinals with five pinch-hits, although he struck out in that role leading off the fifth. ``I think it speaks well to his knack for going out there and not fainting,' La Russa said. ... Switch-hitting Lance Berkman of St. Louis hit his 300th homer batting left-handed Thursday night, but struck out his first three trips on Friday.
The Associated Press News Service
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