Bautista homers as Blue Jays keep Twins from gaining ground

TORONTO -- Minnesota keeps failing to pressure Detroit in the AL Central.

Jose Bautista hit a solo homer, Brett Cecil won his final start of the season and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Twins 3-2 Thursday.

"It's a game we needed to win, and we didn't do it," Morneau said. "That's why we're a .500 team."

Minnesota (70-70), which began the day 5 1/2 games back of the Tigers, has not won consecutive games since taking three in a row from Aug. 30-Sept. 1. The Twins went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position Thursday and are averaging just 3.2 runs during their past 10 games.

"You give up three runs, you should have an opportunity to win," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Unfortunately for us, our offense never could get anything going."

Minnesota is batting .237 (72 for 304) in September.

"I'm trying my best not to do everything, just to keep it simple still," designated hitter Jason Kubel said. "But given the circumstances, it's kind of hard not to go out there and try to win the game yourself."

The Twins begin a nine-game homestand Friday that starts with three each against struggling Oakland and Cleveland. They'll face the Tigers for three starting next Friday.

"We're just trying to hang on and try to gain some ground until we play Detroit," starter Scott Baker said. "We obviously don't have a lot of room to lose any more games, that's for sure."

The Twins also play a four-game series at Detroit from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1.

One night after the teams drew 11,159, the smallest crowd in the 20-year history of Rogers Centre, attendance was 11,461, the second-lowest this season. Toronto averaged 12,315 for the four-game series.

Minnesota's Joe Mauer went 0 for 4, dropping his major league-leading average to .363.

Cecil (7-4) allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings. Toronto is stopping his season after he pitched a combined 142 1/3 innings in the majors and at Triple-A.

"To finish like that, I still have a lot of stuff to work on but it's really good, really positive," Cecil said.

Jeremy Accardo, Jesse Carlson and Shawn Camp each got one out in the seventh, Scott Downs pitched the eight, and Jason Frasor finished for his eighth save in 10 chances.

"It all starts with pitching and Cecil pitched a good ball game for us," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "The guys came out of the bullpen and shut everything down."

As the Blue Jays headed to Detroit after the game, they dressed Cecil and nine other rookies in Toronto Argonauts cheerleaders costumes for the flight.

"This will be a first," Cecil said.

Baker (13-8) lost for the first time since July 7, giving up three runs, five hits and four walks in 6 2/3 innings. He had been 7-0 in his previous 11 starts.

"He still gave us a great chance to win, we just couldn't get any runs for him," Mauer said.

Toronto went ahead in the first when Joe Inglett walked and scored on Adam Lind's double.

Denard Span tied it in the third with a leadoff homer, but Bautista's fifth homer of the year put Toronto back on top in the fourth.

Minnesota tied it again in the fifth when Nick Punto doubled and scored on Orlando Cabrera's RBI single but Toronto moved in front for good in the bottom half. John McDonald led off with a double, took third on a grounder and scored on Lind's sacrifice fly.

Game notes
Toronto RHP Roy Halladay will get an extra day of rest before his next start, Tuesday at New York. LHP David Purcey will make his first start since April on Monday at Detroit. ... Inglett returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sore ankle. ... OF Vernon Wells and SS Marco Scutaro were held out of Toronto's starting lineup but Wells came on as a defensive replacement in the ninth. ... The Twins are 19-30 in day games. ... Ten of the 13 hits were for extra bases, including eight doubles.