ARLINGTON, Texas —Gerald Laird was worried as last week’s trading deadline approached that he might be changing teams. He’s glad the Texas Rangers kept him around.
Laird homered twice and drove in four runs, helping the Rangers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-4 on Sunday night.
“I didn’t want to go anywhere,” Laird said. “I like this team. I think we’ve got a chance to be good for quite a while.”
Laird had his third career multihomer game, second this season, with two-run shots in the fourth and fifth innings to help the Rangers remain on the fringe of the wild-card race.
Both homers were opposite-field shots into the right-field bullpen off Toronto rookie starter David Pursey, making his first career appearance against the Rangers.
“I was trying to figure out the guy because I’d never faced him before,” Laird said. “I was trying to get something out over the plate. I put good swings on it. I think I’ve had more hits there (right field) than I did all last year.”
Texas starter Luis Mendoza (3-4) recovered from a three-run first inning to allow four runs and six hits in seven innings. Mendoza struck out two and walked one in his 12th major league start, retiring his final nine batters.
Mendoza was surprised that manager Ron Washington stuck with him through the seventh inning.
“When we got to the fifth, I thought maybe that would be my last inning,” Mendoza said. “But I didn’t throw too many pitches in the sixth. He trusted me to go back out there and that was good.”
Rookie Chris Davis also homered for the Rangers, his 11th in 33 games.
Texas continues to lead the majors in several offensive categories.
“Our offense has been taking off lately,” Davis said. “It’s a great time to be part of the Rangers organization.”
Pursey (1-2) allowed only three hits in five innings, but all three were homers as he gave up five runs. Pursey struck out four and walked two in his fourth major league start.
“I left a couple of pitches over the plate against a good-hitting team and they capitalized on those mistakes,” Pursey said. “I’ve got to learn to stay within myself and not overthrow.”
The Blue Jays jumped on Mendoza for a three-run first highlighted by Lyle Overbay’s RBI double, Matt Stairs’ run-scoring single and Adam Lind’s sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, Brad Wilkerson’s RBI groundout pushed Toronto’s lead to 4-0.
Purcey didn’t allow a hit over the first three innings. But in the fourth, Purcey issued a leadoff walk to Ian Kinsler and Laird followed with his first homer of the night to pull the Rangers within 4-2.
Davis’ solo shot in the fifth drew the Rangers within one, and later in the inning Laird’s two-run shot—his sixth of the season—gave Texas a 5-4 advantage.
Purcey’s ERA swelled to 8.35, but manager Cito Gaston thinks the young left-hander has a good future.
“We’ve got to look at this kid some more,” Gaston said.
Texas broke the game open with a three-run eighth off the Toronto bullpen on Marlon Byrd’s RBI double, Davis’ run-scoring single and Ramon Vazquez’s sacrifice fly for an 8-4 lead.
The Blue Jays had scored six runs in their previous four games entering the three-game series against Texas. Toronto’s offense was considerably more productive against the pitching staff with the worst ERA in the majors, putting up 18 runs in the series. But Toronto still dropped two of the three games and has lost four of five overall.