The Toronto Blue Jays came up with a winning formula to address their pitching woes.
First, start a reliever. Then, bring in two guys called up from the minors.
The result was a four-hitter against the Atlanta Braves, who looked feeble in a 3-0 loss to the last-place Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
Four pitchers combined on Toronto’s second shutout of the season, with Casey Janssen working a 1-2-3 ninth to finish it off for his 11th save.
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But the most important work was turned in by the three pitchers who came before the closer.
Esmil Rogers lasted 31/3 innings in his first start since 2011. He was followed to the mound by two pitchers called up from Triple-A Buffalo before the game: Juan Perez (1-0), who went 22/3 hitless innings with four strikeouts for the win, and Neil Wagner, who got through the seventh and eighth allowing one hit.
Melky Cabrera had three hits, scored Toronto’s first run and drove in the other two with a second-inning single.
Atlanta starter Kris Medlen (1-6) failed to last as long as Rogers.
Medlen took a liner off the left leg in the second and didn’t return the next inning because of a contusion to his upper calf. He is expected to make his next start, though his leg was heavily wrapped after the game.
Cabrera led off the game with a single and wound up scoring Toronto’s first run on a fielder’s choice grounder by J.P. Arencibia. With one out in the second, Emilio Bonifacio lined one off the back of Medlen’s leg, reaching on the infield single. The Braves trainer came out, and Medlen walked gingerly around the mound before deciding to stay in.
That might’ve been a mistake. Munenori Kawasaki walked, Rogers bunted the runners over and Cabrera singled to left to drive in two more runs. Medlen finished the frame but was done for the night, having allowed four hits, a walk and all three Toronto runs in the shortest start of his career.
The Braves finished with 11 strikeouts, the 24th time in 52 games they’ve reached double figures in that category. Brian McCann whiffed to end the game. B.J. Upton’s average dropped to .146.
Notes: The Braves activated right-hander Jordan Walden off the disabled list before the game and optioned RHP Cory Rasmus to Triple-A Gwinnett. … The Braves are going with 11 pitchers, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said they may have to consider going back to 12 after Medlen’s short outing.