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TOR@MIN: Escobar singles home Blue Jays' first run

MINNEAPOLIS -- Toronto's 10-game road trip came to a disappointing .500 end on Sunday with a 4-3 loss to the Twins, thanks in large part to events that were literally beyond their control -- as in their ability to throw strikes.

The Blue Jays entered Sunday's game having issued the fourth-most walks in the Majors and 18 free passes in the three games in Minnesota. Ricky Romero (4-1) did little to reverse that trend, walking five while giving up nine hits and four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.

"It's far too many free passes," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "We see that, we know that. ... When you put that many guys on base, you're creating some issues."

Both the manager and the starting pitcher attributed Romero's recent troubles (10 walks in 11 1/3 innings over his last two starts) to a mechanical issue that they're trying to iron out with extra work on the side between outings.

"I'm rushing through my delivery," Romero said. "I worked on it all week. I think this game just tests you mentally and you've got to stay mentally strong and continue to work. I think it's just not letting my arm catch up, which is leading to kind of pushing the ball.

"It's really unusual for me to be walking guys like this," Romero added. "Usually I'm a guy who pitches to contact, but I feel like I don't have control of that outer half of the plate to righties, and when you fall behind in this game, walks and stuff like that will hurt you, and it definitely did today."

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays' offense did nothing against Scott Diamond (2-0), a 25-year-old left-hander from Guelph, Ontario, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester earlier in the week. Diamond held the Angels scoreless over seven innings Tuesday in his first start of the year and he duplicated the feat on Sunday in his first appearance against Toronto.

Unlike the Blue Jays' pitchers this weekend, Diamond displayed masterful control, walking none and fanning four in seven dazzling innings.

"We had some opportunities where we hit the ball hard -- we lined out into a double play on [Ben] Francisco's ball and Jose [Bautista] hit another ball hard to left field," Farrell said. "I liked the way we swung the bats, but the fact is Diamond didn't really create a mess by walking anybody and adding extra baserunners."

The Twins got to Romero in the third inning on rookie Brian Dozier's first Major League home run, a solo shot to left off a hanging changeup that landed in the second deck of Target Field's "Home Run Porch."

But the game really got away from Romero in the fifth as the Twins tacked on three more for a 4-0 lead. Denard Span and Dozier started the inning with singles before Romero walked Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham to drive in a run -- the third straight game in which a Blue Jays pitcher has issued a bases-loaded walk.

Ryan Doumit then doubled Minnesota's lead with a two-run single up the middle and through the Blue Jays' infield shift. Romero limited the damage by getting Trevor Plouffe to hit into a double play and retiring Erik Komatsu on another grounder to strand a runner on third, but by then the Twins had all the runs they would need thanks to Diamond's dominance.

While Diamond shut the Blue Jays down, they found success against the Twins' bullpen in the eighth to get back into the game. Yunel Escobar drove in a run with an RBI single off of Jared Burton, the third straight single to start the inning. Eric Thames drove in another with an RBI groundout and a wild pitch by Glen Perkins plated another to make it a one-run game.

But Matt Capps worked around a one-out single by J.P. Arencibia in the ninth to nail down his seventh save in as many opportunities, sending the Blue Jays back to Canada off a 5-5 road trip to start a seven-game homestand against the Rays, Yankees and Mets.

"You'd like to come back 6-4, but I'm not going to take anything away from anybody," Farrell said. "We lost a couple of one-run games on this trip, but we're playing competitive baseball. We're bringing it every day and now we've got to go home and get things going back the way we started this road trip out in Anaheim. We've got three very good teams coming in on this one."

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