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Streaking Blue Jays see off Rangers

THE American League-leading Toronto Blue Jays continued their brilliant start to the season with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Texas Rangers on Thursday.

Alex Rios hit a two-run home run to support a strong pitching effort from starter Scott Richmond and help the Blue Jays win for the fourth time in five contests and improve to 12-5.

The streaking Blue Jays have began the season with five straight series victories, the first team to accomplish the feat since the San Francisco Giants in 2003.

"We're finding ways to do it," Toronto first baseman Lyle Overbay said. "I mean, we didn't really hit the ball well tonight. We got some key hits, those are key hits that we're getting right now."

Richmond struck out eight batters and allowed two runs over six innings to pick up his second win of the year.

Scott Downs threw a perfect ninth inning to get the save and complete a solid night for Toronto's relievers, which included scoreless stints by Brandon League, Jesse Carlson and Shawn Camp.

The Blue Jays used second-inning home runs by Vernon Wells and Overbay to take an early 2-0 lead.

Texas (6-9) outfielder Josh Hamilton was 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the fourth inning while Chris Davis added a solo shot to right field in the sixth.

However, the Rangers were 1-4 down by the end of the fifth after Rios delivered his blow off starter Kevin Millwood, who surrendered four runs in seven innings.

Millwood (1-2) lost his second straight and has allowed 10 runs in the last three starts.

Texas second baseman Aaron Hill stayed hot with two hits and two runs as he raised his average to .377.

He has hit safely in 16 of his team's 17 games this year but could not prevent the Rangers from losing for the fourth time in the last six contests.

The Blue Jays have matched their franchise's best start through 17 games.

In Cleveland, Grady Sizemore greeted reliever Ron Mahay with a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the eighth inning for the Indians to beat the Kansas City Royals 5-2.

In other American League action, it was: Mariners 1, Rays 0; Orioles 6, White Sox 2; and Angels 10, Tigers 5.

In the National League, Dave Bush held the Philadelphia Phillies hitless into the eighth inning for the Milwaukee Brewers to cruise past the World Series champions 6-1.

Several innings after World Series MVP Cole Hamels was forced to leave after getting hit in the left shoulder by Prince Fielder's line drive, Bush (1-0) became the sixth pitcher to take a no-hit bid into the late innings this season. All of them were broken up.

Pinch-hitter Matt Stairs homered off the foul pole in right field and Bush left soon after to a standing ovation.

In St Louis, Albert Pujols homered twice as St Louis completed a three-game sweep of the New York Mets at home for the first time since 2004 with a 12-8 win.

In Chicago, Aaron Harang allowed only one unearned run over seven innings and Joey Votto homered, doubled twice and singled as Cincinnati handed Chicago its first series defeat of the season with a 7-1 thumping win.

In Houston, Chad Billingsley pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake each drove in a run to lead Los Angeles 2-0 over Houston.


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