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TEX@TOR: Johnson hammers a two-run homer for lead

TORONTO -- In a season that just entered its second month, calling a series win over any team a statement might be considered a stretch.

But the Rangers aren't any team -- they are among the American League's elite -- and the Blue Jays accomplished a feat that no other team had been able to against Texas in the regular season since 2011.

A six-run fourth inning -- highlighted by a Yunel Escobar bases-clearing triple -- led the Blue Jays past the Rangers, 11-5, on a brisk Wednesday afternoon, in a game which featured the Rogers Centre roof open for just the second time this season.

Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run shot to left in the sixth inning, his American League-leading ninth of the season, to put Toronto ahead by the final margin. It was Encarnacion's fifth homer in his past six games and extended his hitting streak to eight games.

"He's been tremendous, he's having fun," Toronto starter Romero said about Encarnacion. "Just to think what happened to him last year -- the boos he was receiving in this stadium. To see him succeed and the way he has come and overcame all that stuff, it's been tremendous. He has a lot of passion and is definitely a heck of a hitter. We all knew that -- it's good to see him succeed."

With the win, Toronto became the first team to beat Texas in back-to-back contests since last August and also the first team to score five or more runs against the Rangers in consecutive games since last August.

"Beating the Rangers -- any time you play these teams that are a little bit good, there's a different vibe and different feel when you beat them," said Kelly Johnson, whose two-run homer in the third put the Blue Jays on the board and was his second in as many days. "To beat them in a series, it gives you a big boost, a high. Definitely a big booster."

Before Toronto erupted in the fourth inning, Johnson, who was batting leadoff for the first time this season, launched his sixth homer of the season, off Rangers starter Matt Harrison. The ball hit the facing of the second deck in right. It was the first home run that the lefty Harrison had allowed to a left-handed hitter this season.

Things got worse from there for the southpaw, as the Blue Jays sent nine men to the plate in a six-run fourth inning.

J.P. Arencibia started the damage by clubbing a two-run double off the wall in left, before Escobar's three-run triple to center finally chased Harrison from the game. Jose Bautista added a sacrifice fly off reliever Scott Feldman that increased Toronto's lead to 8-1.

"He just wasn't able to get his secondary stuff across," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Harrison, who was tagged for eight runs over 3 1/3 innings. "He just couldn't get his changeup working, which is his bread and butter. And when he left the ball up, you have to give the Toronto Blue Jays' hitters credit, they made us pay for it."

After Texas clawed back and scored four runs off Romero in the fifth, Toronto put the game out of reach in the sixth inning with Encarnacion's three-run homer.

Romero wasn't at his sharpest, but he was effective aside from the fifth, when he walked the first three batters and allowed five straight to reach base. The lefty lasted eight innings, allowing five runs while striking out a season-high six batters, and his only other blemish was on a 93-mph fastball in the second that Brandon Snyder hit out for his for his first career Major League homer.

"It was a good outing, other than that one inning," said Romero, who improved to 4-0 and became the first Blue Jays pitcher to start a season 4-0 since Scott Richmond in 2009. "It's just one of those things where I couldn't find it, but I was able to settle down. The offense picked me up today and put up enough runs to where there was a pretty comfortable lead, and I just had to go out and make pitches. That's a tough team, a tough lineup. I thought I did a pretty good job at throwing strikes and keeping them off balance."

By Romero tossing eight innings, it marked the 27th consecutive time that a Blue Jays pitcher has gone at least five innings, tying a franchise mark set in 2007.

The 11 runs are the most the Blue Jays have scored this season and could be a sign of things to come for an offense that was supposed to carry the team this year.

"When we have the ability to see a number of pitches and guys do what they're capable of, this can be a deep lineup, and today was evidence of that," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.

Toronto wrapped up its six-game homestand with a 4-2 mark, and the club is set to embark on a 10-game road trip starting in Los Angeles on Thursday night and ending in Minnesota after a stop in Oakland.

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