Santana's 2 homers help Indians top Blue Jays 4-3

Published April 8, 2012 8:27PM (EDT)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Carlos Santana hit two home runs on his 26th birthday, Derek Lowe pitched seven strong innings and the Cleveland Indians beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 Sunday for their first win.

Santana opened the second inning with a drive over the wall in center. He connected a second time off Joel Carreno (0-1) in the fifth, a two-run shot to right that broke a 2-all tie.

It was Santana's second career multihomer game. He other came Sept. 13 at Texas.

On his last four birthdays, including two years in the minors, Santana is 10 for 17 with five homers and 13 RBIs.

Lowe (1-0) got 15 outs on grounders and allowed two unearned runs in his Indians debut. Edwin Encarnacion had an RBI double and Brett Lawrie a sacrifice fly as Toronto tied it at 2 in the fourth.

Chris Perez pitched a shaky ninth for the save. Toronto loaded the bases, but Perez got slugger Jose Bautista to pop to Cabrera to end it.

The right-hander survived a critical error by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera on a potential game-ending double play grounder. The miscue put runners on first and second with one out.

Perez came back to strike out Yunel Escobar, but walked Kelly Johnson before getting Bautista.

It was the third straight strong start by the Indians' rotation. Cleveland starters compiled a 1.23 ERA in the series.

Lowe, in his 16th season, allowed five hits and had one walk and one strikeout. The 38-year-old right-hander showed no ill effects of some tightness in his right ribcage that caused him to leave an exhibition start on March 29.

Acquired from Atlanta this offseason, Lowe made his first appearance at Progressive Field since May 2004, for Boston. He spent the past seven seasons in the National League.

Toronto won the first two games of the season-opening series by 7-4 scores. The first game went 16 innings, the longest opening-day game in history, and the second game lasted 12 innings.

Cleveland led in all three games, but this time the Indians' bullpen did not allow the Blue Jays to come all the way back.

Joe Smith replaced Lowe to start the eighth and yielded three consecutive one-out singles and a run. Adam Lind's RBI single made it 4-3.

Vinnie Pestano came on and struck out Encarnacion and Lawrie to end the threat.

Perez, who had blown a 4-1 lead in the ninth in the opener, remained composed after Cabrera's error and showed the form that made him a 2011 All-Star.

Carreno, making his first career start, gave up six hits and walked four over six innings. The right-hander had worked 11 times in relief a year ago for the Blue Jays.

Notes: Cabrera made a diving stop followed by a whirling throw to rob Escobar of a hit in the third inning. ... Cleveland 1B Casey Kotchman snapped an 0 for 13 start to the season with a fourth-inning single. ... Both teams move into division play Monday. Toronto RHP Henderson Alvarez will pitch the Blue Jays' home opener against AL East rival Boston and LHP Felix Doubront. Cleveland will send RHP Josh Tomlin against the visiting AL Central rival Chicago White Sox and LHP Chris Sale.

By Salon Staff

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