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TOR@KC: Romero strikes out five over eight innings

KANSAS CITY -- Ricky Romero hasn't given up much this season, and Sunday was no exception.

Romero continued his strong start with eight solid innings, allowing just two runs on five hits for his third win of the season, as the Blue Jays handed the Royals their 10th straight loss with a 5-3 victory at Kauffman Stadium.

Romero had a bumpy fifth inning, but other than that he was virtually unhittable. He struck out five and induced ground ball after ground ball, which his infielders gobbled up with ease. Romero also got some help from the elements, as windy conditions knocked down several balls hit into the outfield.

"The wind was a little crazy, but you take it and run with it. You use it to your advantage," Romero said. "Obviously, it didn't look like the ball was going to go anywhere today."

Toronto's offense helped out, too, putting a four-spot on the scoreboard in the fifth inning, the second four-run frame in as many days for the Blue Jays.

Rajai Davis led off the inning with a double and stole third base after J.P. Arencibia walked. Yunel Escobar singled in Davis for the first run of the game.

Two batters later, Jose Bautista singled off the glove of diving Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. The ball bounced to center fielder Jason Bourgeois, and Arencibia tore around third base to score using a great slide to avoid the tag from catcher Humberto Quintero.

Arencibia said the team had talked about running on Bourgeois, and he knew as soon as the ball got by the shortstop that he was going home. Third-base coach Brian Butterfield waved him in and the slide around Quintero pushed the game to 2-0 in favor of Toronto.

"J.P. is not known for his speed," Romero said. "But sometimes it's not about speed in this game, it's about good baserunning, and that was good baserunning by him and great third-base coaching by Butter. We were able to get a run."

Brett Lawrie singled later in the inning to score Yunel Escobar and Bautista, making it 4-0.

Romero had his own trouble in the fifth. With the bases loaded and none out, Alcides Escobar hit a ground ball to second baseman Omar Vizquel, who flipped it to Yunel Escobar for a force-out at second. Jeff Francoeur scored on the play.

Yunel Escobar's throw to first was a wild one, though, flying past the first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, allowing Mike Moustakas to score a second run on the play. When the confusion following the scoring of the play settled, the Royals had cut the Blue Jays' lead in half.

Farrell came out to talk with second-base umpire Eric Cooper, believing that interference from Quintero could have caused Escobar's throw to be so off the mark.

"The runner at the time peeled off," Farrell said. "He didn't slide. I felt like it was questionable intent to avoid any contact with Yunel in that case. Yunel's got such an accurate throwing arm that it looked to me that there was some form of interference that caused him to redirect the throw. But Eric didn't see it that way at second base."

Romero induced two more ground balls to Vizquel, and the inning ended without further damage.

The Blue Jays added an insurance run in the top of the eighth. With runners at the corners, Arencibia broke to steal second base, and Lawrie came home after the throw went to second. The throw back home didn't get there in time, and Lawrie scored to extend the Toronto lead to 5-2. Both players were credited with a stolen base.

Romero pitched well through eight innings, a feat he's accomplished twice this year. He pitched into the ninth inning on April 11 against Boston.

"I got deep into the game, and that's my goal every time I take the mound is just to go out there and try to get as deep as possible," Romero said. "I had a little bit of a hiccup in that one inning, but I thought I battled pretty good back from that, and just continued pounding the zone and let the defense work."

At least one Royals hitter agreed that Romero was tough.

"He was good, he was coming right after guys," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "There was a tough wind out there today, but I think he was using that to his advantage and just coming right after guys. He got deep into the game, and kept his pitch count down and threw a good game."

Francisco Cordero picked up his first save of the season after a tenuous ninth inning that featured two hits, a walk and a run scored. He finally got pinch-hitter Brayan Pena to ground into a game-ending double play.

"It's always good to get the first one, especially here when I'm not a closer," Cordero said. "I came here as a setup guy, and unfortunately Sergio went on the DL. They're telling me I was going to be the closer. ... It was really good to do what I've been doing for a long time."

It was Cordero's first outing as the Blue Jays' interim closer. He wasn't rattled by the baserunners and run scored.

"If you get nervous, then you're in the wrong business," Cordero said. "You've got to be able to calm down in that situation. ... I said to myself, 'We've got a chance at a double play right here, just make a good pitch.'"

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