MINNEAPOLIS -- The Toronto Blue Jays started a 10-game trip a couple of weeks ago, lost eight times and fell well back in the AL wild-card race.
An opportunity to redeem their road record and climb back into contention started Thursday night with a 5-0 win over the Minnesota Twins.
"We haven't been a good road team to begin with," manager John Gibbons said. "We're not really looking at that now. Everybody's written us off anyway, so we're just going to play it out and see what happens."
Alex Rios had two RBI for Toronto, which trailed Minnesota by 7 ½ games in the wild-card standings when the day began. Chicago was a half-game back and Boston was 1½ games behind.
A day after a dramatic, 4-3 comeback victory over division-leading Detroit, the Twins moved into the wild-card lead for the first time. But their bats were stifled by Lilly (10-10), taking a bit of the buzz out of the Metrodome crowd of 30,118.
"We put ourselves in a position where we're out of the hole," said Michael Cuddyer, who went 0-for-3 with a walk. "We've just got to continue playing the way we've been."
Carlos Silva (8-10) threw well but lost for the first time in six starts because of Lilly, who struck out three and helped the Blue Jays win for the fourth time in five games following a seven-game losing streak. He gave up only three hits and two walks, despite throwing 107 pitches.
Changing speeds and throwing inside effectively, Lilly won for the first time in four starts -- not a significant streak, but enough that he couldn't even recall the last game Toronto won when he pitched.
Minnesota had runners at the corners with two outs in the second, but Jason Tyner grounded out.
In the sixth, Luis Castillo and Nick Punto started with singles. Joe Mauer moved them over with a groundout to second, but Cuddyer struck out and Justin Morneau popped one up to Troy Glaus at third.
"One thing I haven't been doing as well as I should is getting those big outs," Lilly said. "You're going to get guys base every once in a while. The guys out that win a lot of games find a way to minimize the damage in those situations."
The Twins were just off-balance all night at the plate.
"He kind of mesmerized us," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Silva was even with Lilly until the fifth, when Lyle Overbay led off with a single for Toronto's first hit. Two batters later Molina hit his 10th homer to right-center field, giving the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead.
Toronto tacked on some insurance in the seventh, when Eric Hinske and Molina each reached on singles. Aaron Hill's high chopper to third was stopped by a leaping Punto, who chased Hinske home and threw him out. John McDonald followed with an infield hit to load the bases, though, and Molina scored on Silva's wild pitch. Then Rios stroked a single through the hole to left, driving in two, making it 5-0 and finishing Silva.
With left-hander Francisco Liriano on the disabled list indefinitely because of problems with his shoulder and elbow, the pressure is on Silva and others to stabilize Minnesota's rotation. Though this wasn't the desired result, Silva had by all accounts a satisfactory start. He gave up only a handful of hard hits, including the sinker away that Molina hit over the wall.
"He did what he was supposed to do," Gardenhire said.
But Lilly was better.
"Ted is nasty, man," Molina said. "I just hope he understands that. He's very nasty to righties and to lefties. The guy can pitch. He showed that in the sixth. He was against the ropes, and he got out of it."
- The Twins handed out replica Mauer sideburns to the first 10,000 fans through the gates. Made of synthetic hair, the black, fuzzy novelties came with double-sided tape for easy sticking to the face. Several teammates, including Morneau, Torii Hunter and Jason Bartlett, wore them during batting practice.
- Toronto and Minnesota are first and second in the majors in team batting average.
- The Blue Jays are in a stretch where they're playing 20 out of 26 games on the road.