Young's homer lifts Rangers past Jays

Young's homer lifts Rangers past Jays

ARLINGTON -- Kameron Loe was breathing better on Sunday, and so are the Rangers.

Good starting pitching will help any team's respiratory system, as will seeing one of the best hitters in baseball getting hot again. The Toronto Blue Jays aren't the New York Yankees, but a sweep is still a sweep, and the Rangers really needed just that.

Michael Young delivered it, hitting a one-out home run off Blue Jays starter A.J. Burnett in the bottom of the eighth inning that carried the Rangers to a 3-2 victory on Sunday afternoon and a sweep of the three-game series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

"You always like a sweep, but we earned this," manager Ron Washington said. "That's a pretty good team over there. The more we earn, the higher our confidence level is going to get and the more consistent we're going to be. Then you're going to see a few more sweeps or at least winning some games."

Young led the sweep by going 9-for-17 in the series after going 0-for-13 in three losses to the Yankees.

"Whenever that team comes back to beat you, it seems like Michael Young is always in the middle of it," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I don't care what his average is; he's still one of the best clutch hitters in the game."

The Rangers have known that for a long time. What they need now is their starting pitching to come around, and it definitely did in the Blue Jays series. The primary reason the Rangers took three from the Blue Jays -- including beating Roy Halladay and Burnett in back-to-back games -- is because their starting pitching was good.

Brandon McCarthy, Vicente Padilla and Loe combined for a 1.37 ERA in the three games while holding the Blue Jays to a .159 batting average.

"They've been great, absolutely," Young said. "Our pitching has been setting the tone for us."

Even though the Rangers did get swept by the Yankees in a doubleheader on Thursday, they have still received five straight quality starts from their starters. Prior to that, they had just four quality starts during a 19-game stretch in which they went 7-12. They won three of those four quality starts and were 4-11 in the other 15 games.

The Rangers are 9-8 this season when their starters go at least six innings, which is not bad, considering the struggles of the offense and other facets of the game.

"In the game of baseball, you go no place without starting pitching," Washington said. "It's all predicated on pitching. Pitching is the key. If you pitch, you have a chance. If you don't pitch, you have no chance."

Loe pitched and gave the Rangers a chance. He had allowed 16 runs over 9 1/3 innings in his previous two starts, but he was at his best on Sunday, holding the Blue Jays to one run on three hits in 6 2/3 frames. He walked one and struck out a career-high six, including Vernon Wells three times.

"I knew we needed this game as a team," Loe said. "We got swept by the Yankees, and now we had an opportunity to sweep the Blue Jays. I knew it was a big game for us, and I knew I needed it as well after a couple of bad outings. It was big all around."

The difference for Loe? He was breathing better in this game.

"I just made sure I was breathing from the stomach, taking deep breaths instead of shallow ones," Loe said. "I stayed calm, saved energy and went deep in the game. It helped me make quality pitches."

Troy Glaus golfed a sinker over the center-field wall for a home run in the second inning that gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. But that wasn't a bad pitch, and Loe still responded by retiring 11 straight hitters and 15 of the next 16 he faced.

Burnett was just as tough, but the Rangers finally got to him with two out in the fifth when Kenny Lofton hit one into the home bullpen to tie the game. Mark Teixeira went into the same place with one out in the sixth, his fourth home run of the year, which gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

"With a pitcher like Burnett, you may only get one pitch to hit all day," Teixeira said. "I didn't see a good pitch to hit until my third at-bat, and fortunately I got a good swing on it."

The Blue Jays tied it in the eighth on a single by Adam Lind off reliever Joaquin Benoit. But Young went deep on Burnett with one out in the eighth, and the Rangers were able to enjoy Sunday night's Triple Play charity event breathing a little easier with the sweep.

"It's important," Teixeira said. "We haven't been playing well at all. To beat a quality team like the Blue Jays and two good pitchers the past two days, it's big for us. You can't say it's a big game when it's only May, but we can't dig ourselves into a deep hole in May."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.