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BAL@TOR: Loewen ties it with his first career homer

TORONTO -- On a day when Dustin McGowan made his long-awaited return to the Blue Jays' starting rotation, it was a pair of September callups that stole the show at Rogers Centre.

Adam Loewen and David Cooper spent the season together in Triple-A Las Vegas and on Sunday afternoon, they were responsible for Toronto's second consecutive come-from-behind victory against the Orioles.

Loewen and Cooper each homered in a three-run seventh inning to overcome McGowan's early control problems in a 6-5 victory over Baltimore in front of 14,235 fans.

"I know so many of the guys over there, it was special to do it against them," said Loewen, the converted pitcher who was drafted by Baltimore.

"The fans at the Rogers Centre are pretty loud, and I think hitting a home run compared to striking somebody out, it's a lot louder and a lot better feeling."

The Blue Jays entered the seventh inning trailing, 5-3, but climbed back into the game thanks to the two players who spent most of the year in the Minor Leagues.

Cooper opened the inning with a solo shot into the right-field seats off right-hander Tommy Hunter for his second of the year. The Pacific Coast League's batting champion is now 4-for-10 with three extra-base hits and three RBIs in four games since being recalled from the Minors.

Loewen followed two batters later with a solo shot of his own. That marked Loewen's first homer of his Major League career, as it sailed just over the wall in straight-away center field and tied the game at 5.

"We have the same agent so I'm probably going to hear about this for the rest of the time that we're together," Hunter said. "You definitely tip your cap. He's gone through a lot of adversity in the game of baseball and to come back and be productive in the big leagues, not only as a pitcher, but coming back at a different position is just ridiculous. Give him a lot of credit."

Toronto's rally didn't stop there as shortstop Mike McCoy doubled to left field. He scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Jose Bautista, who also had an RBI single in the first, to secure the victory.

Hunter was charged with six runs -- four earned -- on nine hits and five strikeouts. He has now lost two consecutive decisions and has allowed at least four runs in each of his past five outings.

"Reactions from hitters tell you things," said Hunter. "I've got to start reading them a little better. Cooper -- he hit a pretty good pitch. But Loewen, the ball just got over the middle of the plate. I pulled it a little bit.

"I'd thrown fastballs away and he fouled a ball to left field, behind the dugout ... You've just got to make better pitches in situations near the end of the game especially when the team needs a win."

McGowan made his return to the starting rotation for the first time since July 8, 2008. He battled control problems on the mound en route to a five-walk performance in three-plus innings of work.

The 29-year-old's issues began in the first by walking two of the first three batters he faced. One runner would eventually come around to score on a sac fly by designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero to give Baltimore an early 1-0 lead.

Baltimore added its second run one inning later after Chris Davis walked and later scored on an RBI single by Matt Angle. McGowan briefly settled in by closing out the inning without any further damage and recording a three-up, three-down third.

McGowan then opened the fourth inning by walking two batters before he was lifted from the game by manager John Farrell. Both runners crossed the plate on a two-run single by Nick Markakis off right-hander Carlos Villanueva.

That closed the book on McGowan. He threw 39 of his 75 pitches for strikes and fell just shy of his 85-pitch limit.

Despite the lack of command, it was another step in the right direction for McGowan, who is returning from multiple surgeries on his right shoulder. Farrell said the club will remain patient with the right-hander even though it may take a little while before his old form comes to the surface.

"We probably won't see that to its fullest until next year," Farrell said. "This is a rehab year, there's going to be peaks and valleys with arm strength along the way. Some inconsistencies with overall command, now we're seeing at this level, those might show up a little bit more."

The Blue Jays' bullpen supported McGowan by allowing just one run on four hits and three walks in six innings. Rookie right-hander Joel Carreno got his first Major League win with a scoreless eighth while Frank Francisco earned his 14th save of the year with a perfect ninth inning.

Toronto completed its seven-game homestand against Boston and Baltimore with a 5-2 record. The club will now travel to Boston for a mini two-game series before once again returning for a seven-game set at Rogers Centre. Comments