Ex-Jays strike back

, Last Updated: 4:30 PM ET

TORONTO — The ex-Toronto Blue Jays on the Chicago Cubs sure stuck it to their former team over the weekend.

A day after Reed Johnson helped send Roy Halladay to defeat, Ted Lilly returned to the Rogers Centre mound Sunday afternoon and baffled his former teammates in a 7-4 interleague victory.

Johnson also did some damage in the series finale, catching three balls on the warning track in left field while singling and scoring in the decisive three-run third against Jesse Litsch (7-3). The outfielder, released by the Blue Jays in March, hit a three-run homer that was pivotal in Saturday’s 6-2 Chicago victory.

Lilly then piled on more misery for the Blue Jays (35-36) before a Father’s Day crowd of 40,738. The loss capped a dreadful 3-6 homestand that left them below .500, and they’ve now lost 10 times in their last 14 games after dropping two of three to the impressive Cubs (44-26).

Some of the frustration boiled over in the ninth when manager John Gibbons was ejected after Marco Scutaro was called out on a close play at first. Vernon Wells’ sacrifice fly brought home a too-little, too-late run before Kerry Wood nailed things down.

Lilly (7-5) was facing the Blue Jays for the first time since spurning a similar offer to sign a US$40-million, four-year deal with Cubs at the 2006 winter meetings, and delivered one his best outings in what has thus far been an uneven season.

The performance was reminiscent of his three solid yet frustrating seasons in Toronto, nibbling to batters he should go after, unnecessarily running up his pitch count, but leaving his team in good position to win.

Lilly walked five batters in his six innings but allowed just one hit, escaping his only two jams unscathed.

After RBI singles by Kosuke Fukudome, Derrek Lee and Jim Edmonds opened a 3-0 lead in the third, Lilly walked three batters in the bottom of the inning but the Blue Jays failed to capitalize.

With runners on first and second with one out, Marco Scutaro swung at a 1-0 pitch and hit into a fielder’s choice. Scott Rolen then walked to load the bases, but Wells swung at a first-pitch cutter and popped out weakly to second to end the inning.

Then in the sixth, Wells reached on error by shortstop Ryan Theriot and Kevin Mench followed with a walk. Up came Rod Barajas, whose drive to left took Johnson to the wall where it fell into his glove. Brad Wilkerson then grounded out.

That proved costly as the Cubs opened things up with a four-run seventh. Johnson scored for a second time on Lee’s two-run single off Shawn Camp and Aramis Ramirez followed with a two-run blast that left nothing but the ambience for fans to enjoy.

Alex Rios’ sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning prevented the shutout while Gregg Zaun, activated from the disabled list before the game, hit a two-run shot in the eighth off Neal Cotts to make it 7-3.

Litsch didn’t pitch poorly, but gave up five runs in 5 1-3 innings on eight hits and a walk. He’s now winless in his past three starts and lost for the first time in six home starts.

Notes: Curtis Thigpen was optioned to triple-A Syracuse to make room for Zaun. ... There was a three-minute delay in the third inning because of the moving shadows in the infield caused by the roof’s closure. ... The Cubs planned to spend Sunday night in Toronto before leaving at 7:30 a.m. Monday for Cooperstown, N.Y., to play in the Hall of Fame Game. Manager Lou Piniella says he’ll try to get his regulars as much rest as he can. “They’ll play an inning or two and that’s the end of it,” he said, adding that the team would call up about 15 minor-leaguers to finish things out. ... Ryan Dempster of Gibsons, B.C., starts Tuesday for the Cubs against Tampa Bay. ... Piniella manages his first game against the Rays since parting ways with them in 2005. 16:15ET 15-06-08


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