KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The Toronto Blue Jays regained their
hitting stroke Saturday night.
Shea Hillenbrand hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning,
and Aaron Hill had four hits -- matching his career-high -- and two
RBI to lead the Jays to a 7-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals.Vernon Wells added three hits and two RBI for the Blue Jays,
who lead the American League with a .292 batting average and a .480
slugging percentage but had hit just .190 in their past four games.
They broke out for 15 hits, including six for extra bases, and
every starter had at least one hit in this game."We've been hitting all year," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons
said. "That is not going to disappear."Hill had his second career four-hit game -- his first since June
20, 2005, against Baltimore -- to raise his average to .288."I'm not worried about (the offense)," Hill said. "It just
happened the past few days everyone struggled a little bit. It was
good to see everybody come out swinging."The Jays snapped a three-game losing streak, matching their
longest skid of the season."We know we're better than this," Hill said. "This team is so
good. We still haven't even played to our ability in my opinion and
a lot of people's opinion. We've done a good job so far, but there
is always room for improvement."Hillenbrand led off the seventh with a long home run to left off
Joel Peralta (1-1), the third Kansas City pitcher who had just
entered the game. Russ Adams' two-out triple scored Hill with the
second run of the inning.It was Hillenbrand's first home run since June 11, a span of 23
games. He had just one RBI in his previous 13 games."I'm not a home run hitter," he said. "I've got 37 RBI. I
haven't been driving in runs all year."His 12th home run, however, was a no doubter."He smoked that thing," Gibbons said.Peralta threw a 1-0 fastball that Hillenbrand jumped on."It was up in the zone and you never want to do that," Peralta
said. "If you make a mistake here, you are going to pay for it."The Royals snapped their four-game winning streak, their longest
since winning five in a row June 11-16, 2005.Wells' RBI single in the first drove in Reed Johnson, who
doubled to lead off the game. Wells tripled in the Blue Jays'
three-run third and scored on Gregg Zaun's double. Wells'
RBI-single in the fourth scored Frank Catalanotto, tying the score
at 5-5."We started out so well and the expectations got so high,"
Wells said. "We had four or five guys hitting .350. The last time
I checked, that really hadn't happened over the course of a season
in one lineup ever."We will battle through this. Hopefully, we'll continue this
tomorrow. We're a good team. you're going to go through your lows
and you are going to play some bad baseball here and there. We need
to put together a long winning streak."Hill grounded a two-run single up the middle with two outs in
the third, giving the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead.Brian Tallet (2-0), the third of six Toronto pitchers, picked up
his second victory of the season and his second since Sept. 16,
2002. He got Doug Mientkiewicz to ground out to end the sixth
inning with the bases loaded.B.J. Ryan got the last three outs for his 24th save in 25
chances.The Royals scored four runs in the third, highlighted by Tony Graffanino's two-run double. The Royals have had a double in 30
straight games, the longest streak in the majors this season.
Reggie Sanders and Emil Brown drove in the other runs with singles.Royals starter Scott Elarton faced 21 batters with 12 reaching
base -- on nine hits, two walks and a hit batter -- before he was
replaced by Andrew Sisco with one out in the fourth."I really didn't have much command of anything," Elarton said.
"Everything was either a foot outside or right down the middle. A
lot of times I can battle through it and get my command, but not
tonight."Angel Berroa homered for the first time since May 26 in the
bottom of the second to tie the score at 1-1.Blue Jays left-hander Ted Lilly, 3-1 with a 3.88 earned run
average in his previous four starts, allowed five runs, six hits
and two walks with five strikeouts in five innings.
Royals 2B Mark Grudzielanek left after five innings with
tightness in his lower back. ... Graffanino started at a third
different positions in three nights. Graffanino was at first base
on Saturday, shortstop on Friday and second base on Thursday. ...
Casey Janssen replaced Lilly in the sixth for his first relief
appearance. Janssen gave up two hits in two-thirds of an inning.
... Zaun has hit in 22 of his past 25 starts. ... DH Matt Stairs is
10-for-23 (a .435 average) against RHP Roy Halladay, who starts
Sunday for the Blue Jays.