TORONTO -- There were no late-season giveaways for SkyDome fans last night. No seat cushions or drinking cups. No magnetic calendars or free meals upstairs at the Hard Rock Cafe. But the Texas Rangers gave away something the Blue Jays needed more.
Though veteran left-hander Jimmy Key pitched a brilliant six-hit shutout over seven innings, and ageless Dave Winfield continued to provide power as well as inspiration, it was pure philanthropy on the part of the fast-fading Rangers that jump-started the Blue Jays to their 13-0 victory.
Three errors in the first four innings, along with numerous other mistakes, helped the Blue Jays cruise to an 8-0 lead. In between, the soon-to-be 41-year-old Winfield crushed the first of three Toronto home runs in a 13-hit assault on four pitchers.
It was the most one-sided victory since a 16-3 win over the New York Yankees on June 8, and enabled Toronto (87-62) to increase its lead to 4 1/2 games over the second-place Orioles, who lost to the Brewers in Milwaukee, 12-4. The Blue Jays lead the third-place Brewers by five games.
"If you make a miscue, we'll take advantage, especially at home," said Winfield, whose three-run blast off losing pitcher Kevin Brown (19-10) was his 25th this season and 431st of his career. "But we're not resting on our laurels, you've got to do it day-to-day. There's a different hero every day."
The Blue Jays, who defeated the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night on a 10th-inning home run by John Olerud, had plenty of heroes last night. There was Devon White, who hit his 16th home run along with a double in a season-high four RBI night.
There was also Pat Borders, who started the second-inning with a two-run single and later tripled. And there was Key, who struck out seven and gave up six quiet hits in winning his third straight.
"We got production from everybody," said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, whose team has won eight of 10 against the Rangers. "It's nice to have a game like this."
As good as the Blue Jays played last night, they had plenty of help from the pitiful Rangers. A bad throw by right fielder Jose Canseco led to Toronto's first two runs, a dropped fly ball after left fielder Juan Gonzalez bumped into center fielder Monty Fariss resulted in a three-run third and a booted grounder by third basemen Dean Palmer opened the door to a wild three-run fourth.
This wasn't a big surprise, considering that the Rangers are the worst fielding team in the league. But their impersonation of the 1962 Mets in all aspects of the game didn't leave manager Toby Harrah thinking about a long-term future in Texas. In fact, Harrah had a rather interesting suggestion for a post-game activity.
"They should eat all that food [in the clubhouse] and puke," said Harrah, who inherited this sloppy legacy from predecessor Bobby Valentine. "That would be the appropriate thing to do."
After Brown departed with two outs in the fourth and his team trailing, 8-0, the Blue Jays continued to feast on a parade of Rangers relievers. White greeted Brian Bohanon with a two-run home run in the fifth. Rookie Domingo Martinez, who had singled earlier in his first major-league at-bat, clubbed Mike Jeffcoat for a two-run homer in the eighth.
If anything, the Toronto players felt a little sorry for Brown. It was the second straight time that the 27-year-old right-hander was denied his chance to become the first 20-game winner in Rangers' history. He had lost his previous start to the Blue Jays last week, giving up three home runs in a 7-2 defeat.
"It's happened to all of us," Key (11-13) said about the lack of support Brown got last night. "We've all been through that. He's trying to reach a milestone, and I hope he accomplishes it. But we're trying to win something too."
On another kind of giveaway night here at SkyDome, the Blue Jays took a step toward doing just that.