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TOR@ATL: Romero hurls seven innings of two-run ball

ATLANTA -- Ricky Romero had seen this storyline before. The left-hander was in the middle of another dominating performance, only to look up and see his club's offense put up zero after zero on the scoreboard.

Toronto's No. 1 starter has been pitching as well as anyone in the American League, but doesn't have much to show for it, and the main reason has been a lack of run support.

Romero delivered yet another quality performance, but a seventh-inning two-run home run by pitcher Tim Hudson proved to be the difference as the Blue Jays lost, 2-0, to the Braves on Monday night at Turner Field.

"We didn't score runs; you don't score, you don't win," said Romero, who has a 2.98 ERA in 15 starts this season. "I did everything possible. I'd throw that pitch 101 times.

"You never really expect a pitcher to hit it out, if anything, put the barrel to it and get a base hit or something, but it was Timmy's night, I guess. He did his job on the mound and helped himself with the two runs."

Romero now has a team-high seven losses, but very little of that has to do with his own performance. The 26-year-old has allowed just 15 runs over his past 60 1/3 innings.

Despite the impressive numbers, Romero is just 4-3 over those eight starts. Toronto is 6-9 in games the California native has pitched and in those nine losses, the club has managed to score a total of 13 runs.

That has led to a growing level of frustration in Romero, and it finally boiled over following Monday's outing. The leader of Toronto's pitching staff said his club needs to score more runs and it can't solely lean on the production of its top sluggers -- Jose Bautista and Adam Lind -- to get the job done.

"All I worry about is pitching," Romero said. "I can't worry about the offense ... We can't rely on Bautista, we can't rely on Lind, we have to get somebody else to step up and get on base, drive them in.

"Those guys are getting pitched around. Everybody has got to step it up or else we're not going to keep winning ballgames. We're going to keep losing ballgames like this."

Romero has 12 quality starts in 15 outings this season. He has pitched at least seven innings in each of his past eight starts, but has a 6-7 record on the year.

The lefty has become one of the vocal leaders in Toronto's clubhouse this season and his message after the game was clear. He wasn't trying to point the finger at any particular individual, but stressed the club has to receive more production from the top all the way to the bottom of the batting order.

The lack of offense has become particularly evident in recent games. Toronto's starters have allowed just 12 earned runs over their past 48 innings for a 2.25 ERA, but the team is 3-4 over those seven games.

"They know -- everyone knows," Romero's said of the Blue Jays' woes at the plate. "I'm sure those guys are not trying to get out, we're all trying.

"I'm not singling anybody out or anything like that, we're all trying. But at one point we just have to do the small things and we have to continue to get on base. Like I said, [Bautista and Lind] are going to get pitched around and we need to have somebody else step up and hopefully we're able to do that."

In a cruel twist of fate, Romero's outing came undone as a direct result of person who had been causing Toronto fits at the plate.

Romero and Hudson had been locked in a duel through the first six innings. It came apart in the unlikeliest of fashions for Romero as he served up a first-pitch fastball that Hudson sent into the seats in left field.

It was Hudson's first home run of the season and the second of his career. The 35-year-old previously homered Sept. 12, 2009, against St. Louis. The last time Toronto had surrendered a home run to a pitcher was on July 8, 2000, at Montreal, when Felipe Lira took left-hander David Wells deep.

That was the only blemish on Romero's night. He allowed just six hits and two walks while striking out four over seven innings.

"Romero was really good," said Hudson, who entered the game with a 10-3 record and a 3.00 ERA against Toronto. "He had a good heater. I just got the head out.

"I knew he was going to throw me a fastball with a runner on first base, two outs and the pitcher up. If there was a runner in scoring position, I might not have been looking heater as much."

As good as Hudson's swing appeared on that play, he looked even better on the mound. The right-hander was nearly flawless and kept Toronto's hitters off balance the entire game.

The Blue Jays' only threat early on occurred in the second. Lind reached base on an error and two batters later, J.P. Arencibia singled to left field to put runners on first and second.

Hudson then got Rajai Davis to pop out and Jayson Nix to fly out to right field and end the threat. Atlanta's righty proceeded to retire 20 consecutive batters in a span that started in the second and lasted until Mike McCoy led off the ninth with a walk.

Former Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar followed with an infield single, which chased Hudson with runners on first and second and nobody out. Braves closer Craig Kimbrel came in and retired the next three batters to record his 20th save in 25 opportunities this season.

Hudson finished with two hits and one walk allowed while striking out eight over his eight-plus innings. He needed just 95 pitches -- 63 of which he threw for strikes.

"We had a few quick innings and against a very good pitcher, you're looking for the best pitches you can get early in the count to try and put something together," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.

"But when you've got that kind of sinker going -- other than J.P.'s line drive into the corner -- that was pretty much it." Comments