KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Zack Greinke said his command was a little off and he can do better.
The Blue Jays were impressed nonetheless.Greinke won for the fifth time in six decisions and seldom-used catcher Brayan Pena had a career-high three hits to help the Kansas City Royals beat Toronto 5-2 on Wednesday.Greinke (6-9), the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, allowed two runs and six hits in eight innings, striking out nine without a walk. The right-hander improved to 5-1 with a 2.89 ERA in his last seven starts, a stretch that includes 47 strikeouts and just eight walks."My location was better, but not great still," Greinke said. "My command was a lot better than last time, but it was still not good. The end result looked great. It's not like I could throw the ball exactly where I wanted. I know I could throw a strike, but not exactly where I wanted. It was good, but it was not like locked-in command. The stuff was real good, though which helps get away with that."Greinke, who has not allowed a homer in his last five starts, ended the Blue Jays' streak with a long ball at 13 consecutive games."Guys like that no matter how good your stuff is if you don't mix it up they are going to hit one eventually," Greinke said. "Trying to keep the ball in the park was the main plan today. It worked out good."Greinke yielded singles to Vernon Wells, Aaron Hill and Lyle Overbay for a run in the seventh, but pitched out of further trouble by getting Edwin Encarnacion to ground into an inning-ending double play. Wells had three of the Blue Jays' eight hits."He's one of the top pitchers in baseball," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "You know he's not going to give much. I've seen him better. He had a good breaking ball and he located his fastball well. He got a few guys to chase his breaking balls."Left-hander Marc Rzepczynski (0-1) allowed five runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings for Toronto.Pena, making his sixth start of the season, hit a two-out RBI single in the Royals' three-run fifth inning. Mike Aviles began the spurt with a triple and scored on Billy Butler's double. Jose Guillen added an RBI double before Pena's hit."It's so tough playing hardly at all," Greinke said. "Brayan tries extra hard when I pitch it seems like. I try to tell him not to worry about it, just let it happen."Pena also picked up his second career stolen base in the fifth."I got lucky," Pena said. "The guys were teasing me. I had a conversation with [manager Ned Yost] and he said I needed to be more aggressive. He gave me a green light early and I didn't take it. Nobody thinks I'm going to steal because I'm kind of big a little bit -- well a lot -- but big people can run, too."Kansas City went ahead in the third when Yuniesky Betancourt tripled to lead off the inning and scored on Willie Bloomquist's single. Guillen's sacrifice fly added another run.Encarnacion and John McDonald each doubled in the third for the first Toronto run."Greinke did what he always does," Hill said. "He pounds the strike zone and locates his fastball. If he can get ahead with his fastball it's tough. He's got a good curve and changeup. Any pitcher who can locate as well as he does and has good breaking pitches can be tough. When he can establish that fastball, good luck."Blue Jays designated hitter Adam Lind extended his career-high hitting streak to 14 games, with an assist from the official scorer. Lind initially got on base in the ninth inning on an error, but the scorer later changed it to a hit.
Blue Jays LF Fred Lewis left after five innings with a sore right ankle. ... It appears doubtful RHP Anthony Lerew, who was struck by an Encarnacion line drive Tuesday, will make his next scheduled start Sunday at New York. Lerew left the game with bruised ribs and a bruised right biceps. Yost indicated he probably would be placed on the disabled list.