TORONTO (AP) — Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward gathered his struggling hitters before Wednesday’s game and told them to pull together and keep plugging.
Kolby Allard pitched 5 2/3 innings to win for the first time with Texas, Elvis Andrus had four hits and two RBIs and the Rangers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-3 to avoid a three-game sweep.
“As a manager, you need to find those moments where you know you have to say something,” Andrus said. “You have to wake up the team. He did it right. It didn’t take too long, it was a few words, but it was right on point.”
Nomar Mazara and Danny Santana hit solo home runs as the Rangers wrapped up a three-city trip by scoring more than five runs for the first time in that stretch of road games. The Rangers went 3-6 against Cleveland, Milwaukee and Toronto, winning once against each opponent.
“We dug in a little bit deeper today,” Woodward said.
Texas came in with two hits in its previous 40 at-bats with runners in scoring position but went 4 for 12 in such situations Wednesday.
“Once somebody gets a hit with a runner in scoring position, it kind of frees everybody up,” Woodward said.
Making his second start for the Rangers after being acquired from Atlanta last month, Allard (1-0) allowed three runs and four hits.
“My command wasn’t as good as it could have been but I went out there and battled and made some pitches when I needed to,” Allard said.
The 22-year-old left-hander walked three and struck out five.
“He’s a really smart kid,” Andrus said of Allard. “I love the way he pitches.”
Delino DeShields opened the scoring with an RBI single in the second and the Rangers added on with a three-run fourth. Santana chased Blue Jays right-hander Sean Reid-Foley with a two-run double and Andrus greeted left-hander Buddy Boshers with an RBI single.
Reid-Foley (2-3) allowed three runs and four hits in 3 1/3 innings.
“He threw more strikes today, he just couldn’t put people away,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “They kept fouling balls off and that got his pitch count high.”
Randal Grichuk tripled and scored on a grounder in the bottom half but Andrus made it 5-1 with an RBI double off Zack Godley in the sixth.
Allard left with runners at first and third and two outs in the bottom half. Teoscar Hernández scored when right-hander Emmanuel Clase’s first pitch skipped to the backstop, and Danny Jansen cut it to 5-3 with an RBI single.
Mazara homered off right-hander Neil Ramirez to begin the seventh, his 17th, and Santana made it 7-3 with a two-out solo drive off Ramirez in the eighth, his 19th.
Clase got one out, Rafael Montero struck out four over two perfect innings and José Leclerc pitched around a walk to strike out the side in the ninth.
Blue Jays: RHP Clay Buchholz (right shoulder) made his second rehab start with Toronto’s Gulf Coast League team Tuesday. Buchholz allowed one run and one hit, a home run, in three innings. He walked none and struck out four.
When Reid-Foley threw to Rangers infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the second, it marked the first time in MLB history that a pitcher with a hyphenated surname had faced a batter with a hyphenated surname. Kiner-Falefa won the battle with a single on the 11th pitch of the at-bat.
Toronto wrapped up a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. The Blue Jays went 12-8 over that stretch, outscoring their opponents by 37 runs.
Blue Jays rookie Bo Bichette went 1 for 5 with a double. Bichette has 16 extra-base hits in his first 17 games, more than any player in MLB history.
Rangers: Texas returns home Thursday to begin a four-game series against Minnesota. RHP Pedro Payano (1-1, 3.86 ERA) starts the opener for the Rangers. The Twins have not named a starter.
Blue Jays: Toronto is off Thursday. Neither the Blue Jays nor the Mariners have named a starter for Friday, when the teams begin a three-game series north of the border.