TORONTO (AP) -What started as a pregame joke turned into a rare display of power from Marco Scutaro.
Not known for his slugging, the shortstop hit two of Toronto's season-high five home runs and matched a career-high with four RBIs, leading the Blue Jays to a 10-6 win over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.
Scutaro had a solo homer in the fifth and a three-run shot in the sixth, the first multihomer game of his career.
A career .264 hitter before this season, Scutaro has been playing every day for Toronto and has responded. He's batting .286 with eight homers, one shy of his career high.
``This is my best year, I feel so far, just because of playing time,' Scutaro said. ``That's pretty much what I'm trying to focus on, being consistent. That's the toughest thing, especially hitting, because sometimes your swing's not there everyday.'
Scutaro had homered just once since April 30 before Wednesday's game, a two-run shot on June 23, and heard about the dry spell from Toronto starter Ricky Romero.
``We actually talked about it today before the game,' Romero said with a chuckle. ``I was like 'Let's go man. When was the last time you hit a home run?' I was just joking with and he goes out and hits two today, which is kind of funny.'
Scutaro made sure to seek out Romero after his first drive.
``After the first home run, he came and I looked at him and he kind of just tapped me on the head, just kind of laughing,' Romero said. ``He keeps this clubhouse going most of the time. He kind of jokes around, he's a great teammate to have.'
Aaron Hill, Alex Rios and Vernon Wells all hit solo home runs, Toronto's first five-homer game since July 23, 2006, against the New York Yankees, according to STATS LLC.
All four solo shots came off Cleveland right-hander Carl Pavano, the second time in his career he's allowed four home runs in one game. He also did it May 11, 2005, against Seattle while pitching for the Yankees.
Pavano (8-8) had won back-to-back starts coming in but was roughed up in this one, allowing seven runs and seven hits, six for extra bases, in 4 2-3 innings. He walked two and struck out four.
``It's just one of those games where I struggled to get the ball down,' Pavano said. ``I left a lot of balls up. I don't think I got a groundball until the fourth inning. The balls that I did leave up, they hammered and made me pay.'
The Indians lost for the ninth time in 13 games.
``I felt offensively we were better tonight,' Indians manager Eric Wedge said. ``We had good swings. We're still nowhere near where we need to be but that's a push in the right direction.'
Romero (8-4) got the win, allowing four runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. The rookie left-hander matched a season high with five walks and struck out two.
Down 7-1 in the sixth, Cleveland cut the gap in half when Luis Valbuena chased Romero with a three-run homer.
Scutaro answered in the bottom half with a drive off Jose Veras that barely cleared the wall in left.
Cleveland scored twice in the seventh off Jesse Carlson before Brandon League struck out Valbuena looking to end the threat.
Wells made it 1-all with a homer to left in the second, his 10th and Hill gave Toronto the lead with leadoff shot in the fourth, his team-high 21st.
The Blue Jays chased Pavano with a five-run fifth, including two more homers. Rios led off with a mammoth drive off the center-field restaurant, his 11th. Two outs later, Scutaro homered to left.
Hill followed with a walk, Adam Lind hit an RBI double, Scott Rolen added a run-scoring single and Lyle Overbay sent Pavano packing with an RBI double to right.
``That fifth inning hurt us,' Pavano said. ``They got the home run, I got a quick two outs and couldn't buy another out. I need to get us out of that inning and get us back in the dugout.'
NOTES: Cleveland will promote LHP Jeremy Sowers from Triple-A Columbus to start Saturday at Seattle, Wedge said. Sowers went 2-7 with a 5.77 ERA in 11 games, 10 starts, with the Indians earlier this season. ... Toronto will bring LHP Brian Tallet out of the bullpen to Saturday against Tampa Bay. Tallet was moved to the bullpen following the All Star break as the Blue Jays shifted to a four-man rotation because of off days.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved