Blanco's first major-league homer sinks Blue Jays

TORONTO (AP) -- Tony Blanco can throw away those fake diamond earrings. Real ones are on the way now that he hit his first major-league home run.

Blanco's three-run shot Sunday won him diamond earrings from Washington teammate Jose Guillen because it came within his first 50 big-league at-bats. Guillen had a three-run double and Tomo Ohka
pitched eight strong innings to lead the Nationals over the Toronto Blue Jays 9-2.

Vinny Castilla also said he'd buy Blanco a Rolex watch.

"Oh, that's so good. Those guys were saying, 'When are you going to hit a home run? You're a big guy,'" Blanco said. "They said they were going to buy me something if you hit a home run before 50 at-bats, so that's great for me. I'm going to get a gift tomorrow."

Blanco connected in his 22nd at-bat, and he was thrilled about the new earrings.

"A lot of people said mine were real, but now I've got real ones," Blanco said. "I'm real happy."

Asked if he was happy for Blanco, Guillen joked that he wasn't.

"It's been a great day for him. I think he's the happiest guy in this clubhouse right now," Guillen said.

Shea Hillenbrand homered for the Blue Jays, who failed to complete a three-game sweep.

Blanco hit the Nationals' first three-run homer of the year off Vinnie Chulk in the seventh. Washington has yet to hit a grand slam this season.

Blanco replaced Castilla at third base after Castilla left with a sore left knee in the third inning. Blanco moved to left field in the fifth after Jeffrey Hammonds departed with a pulled right hamstring and was put on the 15-day disabled list after the game.

The Nationals are already missing center fielder Brad Wilkerson, who sat out with an injured right forearm and could be sidelined for a while. Wilkerson hopes to have X-rays on Monday when the team travels to Cincinnati.

"It didn't look good at the start of the day, and it certainly didn't look good when Castilla went out of the lineup, but we battled back," Washington manager Frank Robinson said.

Castilla said he's day-to-day.

The Nationals, who scored just 12 runs in their previous six games, scored five in the fifth off Josh Towers (5-2) on Gary Bennett's RBI single, Marlon Byrd's sacrifice fly and Guillen's three-run double.

"I just felt it was bad pitch selection to just about every hitter," Towers said.

Blanco made it 8-2 with his homer.

"My mother is going to be happy, too," Blanco said.

Ryan Church tied a career high with four hits, previously done May 7 at San Francisco.

Ohka, dropped from the rotation after lasting only four innings in San Francisco on May 6, allowed two runs and five hits. He struck out two and walked one.

"It was encouraging to see him pitch like that," Robinson said.

Ohka (3-3) struggled with his command before being removed from the rotation, issuing 19 walks in his first 30 innings, prompting whispers from the Nationals that he was injured. Ohka got a chance to start because scheduled starter John Patterson is recovering from a sore back.

Hillenbrand's two-run homer gave Toronto a 2-0 lead in the fourth.

Towers, who won his previous four starts, allowed five runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.

"They were due to break out of it," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "Josh has pitched so good for us. He's entitled to it, so we'll let this one slide."

Game notes
Wilkerson described his injury as similar to a shin splint. "If I keep going now it might do some damage and maybe cost me the rest of the season," said Wilkerson, who has been bothered by the injury for at least a week. ... Hammonds failed to score from second on Cristian Guzman's hit off the wall in right field in the fifth. ... Toronto rookie infielder Aaron Hill went 2-for-4 and is 6-for-12 in his first three games in the majors.