Stroman sharp as Blue Jays beat Rangers 4-1

TORONTO -- Marcus Stroman bounced back from his worst start of the season with a strong effort to begin the second half.

The rookie right-hander pitched seven shutout innings to stop a three-start winless streak, Dan Johnson had two RBIs and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Texas Rangers 4-1 Saturday.

Melky Cabrera had three hits as the Blue Jays won for the first time in four games.Toronto had lost nine of 11 coming in.

Stroman (5-2) allowed four hits, all singles, walked none and struck out five, improving to 4-1 with a 1.73 ERA in six home starts.

"Since he's been here, he's been really good, especially for a young kid," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's a lot more polished than I thought he was going to be."

Stroman allowed a season-high five runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Angels on July 9, matching his shortest start this season, but rebounded against the struggling Rangers.

"I was excited to get back on the mound," Stroman said.

Stroman's most challenging inning was the fourth, which began with singles by Daniel Robertson and Adrian Beltre. Unfazed, Stroman struck out Jake Smolinski and Leonys Martin, then got J.P. Arencibia to ground into a forceout.

"That definitely pumped me up going into the next inning," Stroman said.

Elvis Andrus hit an RBI single off Dustin McGowan in the eighth, but the Rangers left the bases loaded when McGowan struck out Smolinski.

With regular closer Casey Janssen unavailable because of illness, Aaron Loup got three outs for his third save in six chances.

Texas, which stopped an eight-game losing streak with Friday's 5-1 victory, has not strung together consecutive wins since beating Minnesota on June 27 and 28 and has the worst record in the major leagues at 39-58.

Colby Lewis (6-7) gave up two runs and eight hits in five innings. In his previous start, he allowed a team-record 13 runs -- 11 earned -- in 2 1/3 innings during a July 10 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

I felt like my stuff was great," Lewis said. "I was able to locate, especially a lot of the off-speed stuff. The changeup was really good today."

Lewis was less happy with Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus, who bunted for a base hit with two outs in the fifth, then endured a verbal barrage from the Rangers righty.

"You're up by two runs with two outs and lay down a bunt," Lewis said. "I don't think that's the way the game should be played. I let him know and that was about it."

Toronto stranded five runners in the first three innings, then took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Rasmus led off with a single, went from first to third on a wild pitch that rolled toward the Rangers' on the first-base side and scored on Johnson's RBI double off the wall in right. Three batters later, Johnson came home on Munenori Kawasaki's infield single.

Toronto made it 4-0 against Ryan Feierabend on Dioner Navarro's RBI single and Johnson's sacrifice fly.

Rangers outfielder Alex Rios left after spraining his right ankle on a swing in the first inning. X-rays were negative. Rios was replaced by Robertson.

"It's not bad, but I'm going to keep him off that turf tomorrow," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Hopefully he'll be ready to go when we get to New York."

Game notes
Time was called when a pair of pigeons walked between the plate and the mound in the bottom of the eighth. When Beltre tried to shoo the birds away, they walked toward first base. ... Texas RHP Nick Martinez (back) threw a bullpen session before the game and will start Tuesday against the Yankees, Washington said. RHP Miles Mikolas will pitch against the Yankees on Monday. ... Making his second straight start at DH, Shin-Soo Choo went 0 for 4. Choo is hitless in 21 at bats, including 11 strikeouts. Washington said Choo will get the day off Sunday, with Beltre starting at DH. ... Rangers RHP Nick Tepesch (3-5) faces Blue Jays LHP Mark Buehrle (10-6) in Sunday's series finale. Buehrle is winless in seven starts.