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Lawrie hits walk-off homer to beat Rangers

Toronto Blue Jays Brett Lawrie hits the game winning walk off home run in the ninth inning to beat the Texas Rangers in Toronto May 1, 2012.


It was felt the first two games of the three-game set against a tough-hitting Texas Rangers outfit would be a good measuring stick for Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison, two up-and-coming hurlers for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Drabek held his own Monday, gutting out six innings in the Jays' loss to the Yu Darvish-led Texans, and the team was hoping – perhaps wistfully – for a similar effort from Hutchison on Tuesday.

When you consider a veteran-laden Texas squad came into the contest leading the American League in most every key offensive category, perhaps it was unfair to expect as much from a 21-year-old making just his third big-league start.

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While Hutchison didn't fair well, the game will be remembered more – at least from the standpoint of Toronto fans – for another implosion by the bullpen.

Fortunately for the Blue Jays, Brett Lawrie took matters into his own hands, leading off the bottom of the ninth inning with a home-run smash to left-centre that lifted Toronto to a dramatic 8-7 victory.

For the sixth time this season in 10 save opportunities, Toronto relievers failed to protect a lead. Francisco Cordero came into the game in the top of the ninth with the Blue Jays up 7-6 and failed miserably.

After recording outs against the first two batters, Cordero allowed three consecutive singles to centre– the third by Michael Young to score Ian Kinsler from third base with the tying run.

Lawrie's heroics ended a roller coaster of a game as the Blue Jays rallied for a win after spotting baseball's best team an early five-run lead. Even Jose Bautista got into the offensive act for the Blue Jays, swatting his fourth home run of the season.

Tuesday featured an interesting pitching matchup, with Hutchison up against Neftali Feliz. Feliz is making the conversion from closer to starter, after logging 72 saves over the last two years, and it looks like the move is a pretty good fit.

However, neither would figure in the decision.

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It was Hutchison who made the first impression, striking out the top of the Texas order in the first inning and then fanning Nelson Cruz leading off the second for his fourth consecutive punch-out. But it all fell apart quickly as Hutchison was blasted back down to earth when the relentless Rangers hitters struck for five runs off five hits for a 5-0 lead.

The big blow was a double into right by Kinsler that scored two.

Kelly Johnson smacked a three-run homer in the third, and that was followed by Bautista's solo shot to cut the Texas lead to 5-4.

Texas added a run in the fourth, when Alberto Gonzalez scored after Kinsler hit into a fielder's choice. The Blue Jays struck for three in the seventh off a sloppy Rangers defence, the key blow delivered by Johnson, whose sharp single into centre scored Jeff Mathis with what at the time looked like the winning run.

Until Cordero entered the fray.

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