ANAHEIM -- It was just one start -- and one good outing doesn't make an All-Star, just as one poor performance isn't a harbinger of bad things -- but for seven innings Sunday, left-hander Ricky Romero showed why the Blue Jays felt he was worthy of the lucrative contract extension he signed one day earlier.
Romero gave up just one run on six hits and rebounded from a rocky outing against the Red Sox on Tuesday to outduel new Angels ace Dan Haren in a 4-1 win. The victory was Toronto's 31st road win of the season, equaling its win total away from Rogers Centre for all of 2009.
The dominant pitching followed Romero's signing of a five-year $30.1 million extension that puts Romero alongside fellow American League pitcher Jon Lester in terms of contract size.
"He was very calm and cool today," manager Cito Gaston said. "He went out there and pitched us a great game. I guess he's earned some of that money already."
Romero got off to a quick start, striking out Alberto Callaspo and Torii Hunter in the bottom of the first. In those at-bats Romero relied on a fastball that hovered in the low 90s and a sharply breaking curve -- that can be a two-strike weapon when thrown with accuracy.
"I felt pretty good," Romero said. "We pounded the strike zone. We stayed down in the zone, and we got a few ground-ball outs. I feel like that's when I'm at my best."
Toronto's Adam Lind hit a home run in the second for a 1-0 lead, and Romero then cruised through the next two innings, but had to work out of jams the rest of the way.
In the fourth Romero put runners on first and second with one out and escaped with back-to-back flyouts.
Two innings later with a runner on first and two outs, Romero then shattered Juan Rivera's bat into three pieces on what appeared to be an inning-ending groundout. Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion threw wide of first base, however, and the Angels had two runners in scoring position for Maicer Izturis.
At that moment the Angels were in position to cut into Toronto's 4-1 lead, and it would have been easy for a young pitcher like Romero to let such a gaffe break his concentration.
Instead Romero threw one more pitch and got out of the inning.
"He knows what he's doing out there," the Angels' Howard Kendrick said. "He's 88 to 92 [mph] with a good changeup. It looks like it's in the zone and it falls out. We had some opportunities, but he came up with the big pitch when he needed it." In showing the composure to escape the sixth without allowing a run, Romero proved he had learned from his last trip to Angels Stadium and pitched in front of family and friends.
Romero, who grew up in the Los Angeles area and played college ball at Cal State Fullerton, gave up seven runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings when he pitched in Anaheim on May 25.
"I think I got a little overwhelmed at times during the first trip that we were here," Romero said. "Tickets, people wanting to see me and stuff like that. This [time] I just took it as just a road trip."
The Blue Jays ran into trouble in the bottom of the eighth with right-hander Jason Frasor on the mound. Callaspo led off the inning with a walk, and Hunter followed with a single to left.
But just as Romero was able to play Houdini whenever the Angels threatened, Frasor protected Toronto's three-run lead. Frasor induced a ground ball from Kendrick for a double play and got Rivera to fly out to end the inning.
Kevin Gregg struck out the side in the ninth for his 27th save of the season.
The win clinched a 2-1 series win for the Jays at Angel Stadium, a place that up until this weekend has been a House of Horrors. Toronto had not won a series in Anaheim since 2005 and had lost nine straight.
David Ely is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.