Litsch dazzles as Blue Jays complete sweep of Twins

TORONTO -- The Minnesota Twins would have been a lot happier if this marathon road trip had ended one city sooner.

Jesse Litsch threw a four-hit shutout and the Toronto Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep with a 9-0 victory over the Twins on Thursday night.

Minnesota wrapped up a season-long 14-game road trip at 5-9 and fell 1 1/2 games behind the idle Chicago White Sox in the AL Central. The Twins have lost nine of 12.

"We've got to get home and see if we can right the ship," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Minnesota started its trip on the West Coast with four against the Angels, three in Seattle and four at Oakland. A day off in Toronto before facing the Blue Jays only made the journey feel even longer.

"We were here for four days but it feels like we were here for a week," outfielder Denard Span said. "The days did seem longer. I woke up in the morning and it seemed like time just kept going. It seemed like it took forever."

Minnesota catcher Mike Redmond agreed.

"In my 10 years in the big leagues, that's the longest I've ever been on the road," Redmond said. "Being here, it started to drag. It really got to be long the last three days, especially the way the games went."

After suffering three walk-off losses on the trip, the Twins were blown out in the finale, suffering their sixth sweep of the year.

"We're reeling a little bit," Redmond said. "It was a little bit frustrating out there, even for me. That happens when you want to win and you want something so bad. We couldn't seem to get a break. We couldn't seem to get a ball to go up the middle. It seems like everybody is making diving play after diving play out there. That gets old."

Litsch (10-8) walked two and struck out three and is 2-1 with a 0.94 ERA in four starts since being recalled from Triple-A on Aug. 14.

Redmond said Litsch kept the Twins off balance with an array of cutters and sliders.

"He's all over the zone," Redmond said. "He throws strikes but everything is moving."

Travis Snider hit his first career home run and went 3-for-4 with two RBIs to help Toronto beat Minnesota for the ninth straight meeting. He also walked and scored twice while Joe Inglett and Alex Rios each drove in a pair as Toronto broke it open with a five-run eighth inning.

Vernon Wells also homered for Toronto, which has won five straight.

Snider, 20, had his first career multi hit game in Wednesday's 11-inning win, going 3-for-5 with three singles. He needed only three at-bats to match that total Thursday, singling in the second, homering to begin the fifth and driving in a run with an RBI single in the sixth. He walked and scored in the eighth.

"Man, he's something," manager Cito Gaston said. "He's very calm, he doesn't get excited. He handles himself up there well."

Toronto's first-round draft pick in 2006, Snider began the season with Class-A Dunedin, spending just 17 games there before being promoted to Double-A. He reached Triple-A in early August and was called up to Toronto on Aug. 28 when Matt Stairs was traded to Philadelphia.

Snider, who said he had to keep himself from sprinting round the bases on his homer, also made an impression on Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey.

"He certainly learns pretty quickly," Slowey said. "You're not going to get him out the same way twice."

Slowey (11-9) didn't get the chance to retire Snider even once, allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings and losing for the first time in six starts. He walked none and struck out three.

Toronto opened the scoring in the first when Inglett was hit by a pitch, went to third on singles by Marco Scutaro and Rios and scored on Wells' sacrifice fly.

The Twins put runners at first and third with two outs in the third, but Litsch got Justin Morneau on a comebacker to the mound.

Wells hit a two-out, solo homer in the seventh, his 16th.

Fans chanted "Replay" when a Rod Barajas drive hooked in front of the left field foul screen in the sixth. Barajas flied out to deep right on the next pitch.

Game notes
Joe Mauer, who caught all 11 innings of Wednesday's loss, started at DH Thursday, with Redmond taking over behind the plate. ... The Twins play 12 of their remaining 22 games at home, but still have a 10-game, three-city road trip that takes them to Baltimore, Cleveland and Tampa Bay. Minnesota is 31-40 on the road.