CLEVELAND - Rookie Danny Salazar pitched six superb innings to win his major league debut, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
Salazar, who began the season in Double-A ball, allowed just one run and two hits. The right-hander didn't give up a hit until the sixth and struck out seven. The hard-throwing 23-year-old was shocked at being called up, but he pitched with the nerves of a seasoned veteran and gave the Indians a much-needed strong outing.
Chris Perez gave up a run in a shaky ninth but got his 11th save.
Asdrubal Cabrera homered in the first off R.A. Dickey (8-10) and Lonnie Chisenhall drove in a run in Cleveland's two-run sixth.
Jose Bautista hit an RBI double for Toronto's only run off Salazar, who was recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Columbus and is likely to be headed back to the Clippers.
If Salazar was nervous, he certainly didn't show it.
Unleashing a fastball that registered 99 mph on the stadium radar gun, he coasted through the first five innings, striking out seven and not letting the Blue Jays get many good swings. A few of his pitches were way out of the strike zone, but just when it appeared he might come unraveled, Salazar settled down.
Salazar's seven strikeouts were the most by a Cleveland pitcher in his debut since Luis Tiant struck out 11 New York Yankees on July 19, 1964.
Salazar held Toronto without a hit until the sixth, when Josh Thole, batting just .108 slapped a pitch into left field. Salazar received a nice ovation from Cleveland fans, who haven't seen many quality starts lately from the Indians' rotation. Munenori Kawasaki sacrificed and Salazar retired Jose Reyes on a liner to second.
Bautista then tied it 1-1 by ripping an RBI double to left. Salazar recovered and got the final out before heading to the dugout, where he was warmly greeted by teammates. Salazar took some pressure off a tired Indians bullpen dragging itself to the All-Star break.
Rich Hill pitched a hitless seventh, Cody Allen struck out the side in the eighth and Perez allowed Colby Rasmus' RBI single and put the tying run at first before getting Rajai Davis on a liner to left for the final out.
The Indians pushed two runs across in the sixth against Dickey to take a 3-1 lead and make Salazar a winner.
Chisenhall came through with a blooper to left with the bases loaded that hung in the air long enough that the runners had to freeze.
When it dropped in, Michael Brantley sprinted home and left fielder Davis, thinking he had a chance at a forceout at home, sailed his throw to the backstop. The ball ricocheted toward the plate, and Ryan Raburn scored from second before the Blue Jays could retrieve it.
Cleveland tacked on an insurance run in the eighth on Carlos Santana's RBI triple.
The Indians had Dickey on the ropes early, but couldn't land a knockout. They put two runners on in the first and loaded the bases in the second, but scored only once.
Cabrera, who had two hits on Wednesday to snap an 0-for-20 slump, drove an 0-2 pitch from Dickey over the wall in right in the first to make it 1-0.
NOTES: Last year at the break, Dickey was 12-1 with the New York Mets. ... Indians 1B Nick Swisher, bothered by a sore left shoulder, didn't start. He's in a 21-of-101 (.208) slump and came in 2-for-15 against Dickey. ... Blue Jays INF Brett Lawrie (sprained left ankle) played his second straight game at second base on a minor league rehab assignment at Triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday. Lawrie has played third since joining the Blue Jays in 2011, but the team is considering a position change when he comes off the disabled list. ... Jays OF Melky Cabrera (sore left knee) is expected to begin a rehab assignment this weekend. He's been on the DL since May 27. ... Salazar was the 10th pitcher to start for the Indians this season. ... Toronto finishes up the unofficial first half with a three-game series in Baltimore. ... Reynolds went 0 for 3 and is batting a major-league low .165 (21 of 127) since May 30.