Even in a wild, 13-inning victory early Saturday morning, the Toronto Blue Jays looked like a team struggling to get it together.
Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer in the 13th inning, but Joe Biagini had to escape a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning to preserve Toronto's 8-7 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels rallied after two Toronto errors in the 13th. Kole Calhoun drove in one run with a single, and Biagini plunked Mike Trout with the bases loaded for another. Biagini then struck out Albert Pujols and got C.J. Cron to line out to centre field for his first save.
"When you get that feeling like the last inning, you don't feel like you win those games very often," Toronto catcher Russell Martin said. "You make an error. You make another error. Then it's like, 'Oh my gosh."'
In the top of the inning, Bautista hit his first homer of the season after two-out singles from Kevin Pillar and Ezequiel Carrera against Jesse Chavez (1-3). Bautista's homer came on a 1-1 pitch and soared out to left-centre. The slugger had two hits to bring his average up to .131 this season.
"The home run felt nice. It was good to contribute," Bautista said. "I think it's a work in a progress. It's a challenge. Sometimes it comes in bunches. Sometimes it goes the wrong way. I've just got to be more consistent."
Ryan Tepera (1-0) pitched three scoreless innings in the game that lasted 5 hours, 36 minutes.
Eight Angels pitchers combined to allow seven walks and throw two wild pitches, and Los Angeles also had two errors to waste offensive contributions from Trout and Pujols.
"We lost this game in a lot of ways earlier," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had some opportunities on the offensive side, but there were some cracks on the defensive side. That really hurt us more than anything."
Trout hit his fifth homer in the fifth inning and had two hits and two RBIs. Pujols had a bases-loaded double in the third, moving him into a tie with Manny Ramirez for 18th on baseball's RBI list at 1,831. The double was the 604th of Pujols' career, tying him for 13th with Paul Waner.
Aaron Loup began pitching the 13th for Toronto, but Cameron Maybin reached on an error by first baseman Justin Smoak, then advanced on a passed ball. Loup walked Danny Espinosa, and third baseman Chris Coghlan booted Juan Graterol's grounder to end Loup's outing, replaced by Biagini.
Toronto went ahead 5-4 in the eighth on a two-run double by Justin Smoak, but Los Angeles tied it later in the inning when Martin Maldonado's fly ball landed just inside the left field foul pole, beyond the reach of a leaping Carrera for an RBI double.
Called up from the minors prior to the game, Toronto starter Mat Latos gave up four runs and six hits in five innings.
Los Angeles starter Alex Meyer lasted 3 2/3 innings in his first start of the season. Called up from Triple-A Buffalo prior to the game, he walked four batters while giving up two runs and two hits.
Blue Jays: According to Jays manager John Gibbons, RHP J.P. Howell "felt fine" after his one-inning appearance for Class A Dunedin on Thursday, striking out two and allowing one hit. Howell is scheduled to throw another inning on Saturday, and if he comes out of that appearance with no setbacks "he'll be good to go in St. Louis," Gibbons said.
Angels: RHP Mike Morin was placed on the 10-day DL with neck tightness. ... Reliever Andrew Bailey, sidelined since April 10 with right shoulder stiffness, resumed throwing. ... Yunel Escobar left the game after six innings complaining of dizziness.
Toronto's 3-12 record entering Friday was the worst 15-game start ever for a team that reached the playoffs the year before, besting the 4-11 mark set by the 1998 Florida Marlins, who were coming off a World Series championship.
"I like some of the things we're seeing," Gibbons said. "We're just not getting the wins, which is the bottom line, and we need to start getting those quick."
Blue Jays: Rookie RHP Casey Lawrence (0-0, 13.50) is expected to be called up from Triple-A Buffalo to make the start Saturday. Lawrence gave up three runs and three hits and walked five (two intentional) in two innings of relief earlier this month.
Angels: LHP Tyler Skaggs (0-1, 5.19) comes off a start versus Kansas City in which he pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits while matching his career high of nine strikeouts.