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Encarnacion returns with a vengeance in Jays win over Rangers

Toronto Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion hits a two run homer off Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish during the first inning of American League baseball action in Toronto on Friday August 17 , 2012.


Sore heel, bum shoulder.

When you're having the kind of career year that Edwin Encarnacion is having, it makes it a bit easier having to deal with the aches and pains that accrue over the course of a 162-game regular season.

The 29-year-old returned to the lineup Friday night following a brief one-game hiatus to rest his weary bones, and did so in style, clubbing his team-leading 31st home run in his first at-bat.

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Combined with a solid starting pitching performance by J.A. Happ, the Blue Jays (56-63) recorded a deserving 3-2 victory over the two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers (68-50) at Rogers Centre.

Encarnacion, who has been battling a sore heel for several weeks, had some incentive to return to the lineup after bruising his shoulder trying to make an acrobatic catch in Wednesday's game against the Chicago White Sox.

Yu Darvish was pitching for Texas.

Encarnacion entered the game batting .800 (4-for-5) with one home run against the Japanese sensation this season.

His mastery continued in the first inning when he clouted a 1-1 Darvish offering to left field, a two-run shot that moved the Blue Jays in front 2-0.

Darvish has been one of the more interesting stories of the season after the Rangers posted a winning bid of $51.7-million back in December to earn exclusive negotiating rights with the Japanese superstar.

Even the Blue Jays were said to be an active participant in the bidding process, although just how active remains a matter of some conjecture as Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos has never acknowledged his club was a serious player.

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When your rotation at the start of the season included the likes of Joel Carreno, why upgrade?

Darvish signed a six-year, $60-million deal with the Rangers and the 26-year-old displayed little culture shock playing in North America, posting a 10-5 record over the first three months and making the AL all-star team.

The second half has been more of a grind with Darvish struggling with his control, going 2-3 with a 7.11 earned-run average since the break.

Darvish, however, won his last outing on Sunday against the Tigers and went into Toronto needing just one victory to set a club record for wins in a season by a rookie.

Darvish was dominant, striking out 10 Toronto batters over seven innings of work, but was undone by the Encarnacion home run and then the blazing speed of Anthony Gose.

With the score 2-1, Gose hit a broken-bat flare to centre field in the fifth inning that bounced off the glove of a diving Craig Gentry. That enabled Gose to engage the after-burners and rocket all the way into third base.

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Gose scored on a single by Rajai Davis.

Happ was also effective, striking out six consecutive batters in the second and third innings to tie a Blue Jays franchise record initially set by Ted Lilly in 2004 and equalled by Marc Rzepczynski in 2010.

Happ had a no-hitter entering the fifth inning where it was broken up by Michael Young, who scored the first Texas run.

Happ departed after six innings. He allowed two hits with eight strikeouts.

Steve Delabar came on in relief and allowed a run – unearned after Omar Vizquel mishandled a ground ball at third with the bases loaded – that scored a run and cut the Toronto lead to 3-2.

Closer Casey Janssen pitched the ninth to earn his 16th save.

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