Alvarez struggles as Blue Jays lose to Rangers
TORONTO (AP) This was one difficult day for Henderson Alvarez.
Alvarez made his scheduled start for Toronto despite the death of a family member on Sunday and was knocked out the fifth inning of the Blue Jays' 11-2 loss to the Texas Rangers.
The 22-year-old Venezuelan right-hander declined to speak to reporters after the game, sending word through a team representative that he was "very sorry" not to make himself available.
Alvarez (7-11) allowed career highs of eight runs and 12 hits in 4 1-3 innings and lost his fourth straight start. Winless since July 28 against Detroit, he fell to 3-8 in 13 home starts.
Blue Jays catcher Yan Gomes said he had "absolutely no idea" what the pitcher was dealing with.
Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison extended his condolences after being told what Alvarez was going through.
"I'll say a little prayer for his family and him tonight," Harrison said. "That's pretty tough. To have that on your mind when you go out and pitch, your focus is definitely not on pitching."
Blue Jays manager John Farrell did not address Alvarez's family situation, but said he needed more variety in his pitch selection.
"I didn't think he used his secondary stuff enough, particularly as they started to be aggressive early in the counts," Farrell said.
Michael Young hit a three-run homer and a two-run double for Texas, which finished with 19 hits after it was held to four runs while splitting the first two games of the series. David Murphy homered and doubled twice and catcher Geovany Soto had three hits as baseball's highest scoring team passed 600 runs for the season.
"We really fed off of (Harrison) today," Young said. "Usually when you have a good offensive performance you feed off the starting pitcher."
Harrison (14-7) pitched eight strong innings to match his career high for wins, set last season. He allowed two runs and two hits, struck out seven and walked one.
"Tremendous," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He worked fast, he got quick outs, he pounded the strike zone, he used all his pitches."
Harrison entered with an 0-2 record and a 12.00 ERA in five career games against Toronto, including a May 2 loss at Rogers Centre when he allowed a season-high eight runs in 3 1-3 innings.
He became the first lefty in Rangers history to win 10 road starts in a season. He's 10-4 in 15 outings away from home, including two shutouts.
"The most important thing was my mechanics and I was able to hone those in pretty quick," he said. "It definitely kept me in the strike zone more and built confidence, and I was able to more aggressive with all my pitches."
Young's fourth homer in the fifth gave him as many RBIs with one swing as he had collected in 17 previous August games. The drive also snapped a career-long 88-game drought between home runs. Young last went deep in a May 7 win at Baltimore.
Murphy went 3 for 4 with a walk and hit a solo drive in the ninth against rookie Chad Jenkins for his 11th homer of the season. Mark Lowe completed the two-hitter as Texas won for the third time in four games.
Mike McCoy hit a solo homer and drove in two runs as the Blue Jays lost for the 16th time in 21 games. Toronto went 3-7 on a 10-game homestand against the AL's three division leaders, New York, Chicago and Texas.
"(Texas) is a team you can't make mistakes against," Gomes said. "One through nine they can hurt you."
Trailing 1-0 on McCoy's groundout, the Rangers took the lead in the third when Soto and Mitch Moreland hit back-to-back RBI singles.
Murphy doubled home Young in the fourth before the Rangers pulled away with a five-run, 10-batter fifth. Josh Hamilton hit an RBI double, Nelson Cruz singled home a run and Young whacked a first-pitch homer to center.
McCoy hit his first homer in the fifth, but Texas made it 10-2 in the sixth when Young hit a two-run double off Brad Lincoln.
NOTES: The Rangers had a season-high 21 hits on April 17 at Boston. ... Harrison has now beaten every AL opponent at least once. ... Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler snapped an 0-for-21 slump with a double in the third. ... Blue Jays 1B David Cooper (lower back tightness) was scratched. Edwin Encarnacion moved from DH to first and Jeff Mathis took over at DH. ... Rangers RHP Koji Uehara (strained muscle in his right side) threw a 30-pitch session of live batting practice at Double-A Frisco on Saturday. Uehara will make a rehab appearance with Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday. ... Toronto's Adeiny Hechavarria made his first career start at second base. ... Gomes was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas following the game. Toronto will make a corresponding move before Tuesday's game at Detroit. ... Toronto 3B Brett Lawrie (strained right ribcage) went 0 for 3 and struck out once in a rehab game at Class-A Dunedin ... Blue Jays RHP Brandon Morrow (strained muscle in left side) gave up two runs and four hits in 4 2-3 innings in a rehab start at Double-A New Hampshire. Morrow threw 81 pitches, walked two and struck out four.
Updated August 19, 2012