Romero K's 12, takes no-hitter into 8th before Rios homer ends it

TORONTO -- Alex Rios had mixed emotions about breaking up former teammate Ricky Romero's no-hit effort.

Romero became the latest Toronto pitcher to take a no-hit try into the late innings, losing his bid in the eighth when Rios homered in the Blue Jays' 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.

"It just wasn't one of those nights where it was destined to happen for me and maybe it never will be," Romero said. "To come that close, it's pretty cool. It's an awesome feeling."

Romero struck out a career-high 12, walked two and was in complete control until hitting A.J. Pierzynski with a pitch to start the eighth. Rios followed with a no-doubt drive to deep left for Chicago's only hit, ruffling Romero.

"It's kind of mixed feelings," Rios said. "It's another team that you have to play and beat but, at the same time, you know the guy. I don't even know how to explain it."

Rios spent most of last year with Toronto before Chicago claimed him on waivers in August. It was his second homer of the season.

"It's just another game," Rios said. "I don't have anything against [Toronto]. I was just playing a regular game. I don't have any different emotions because this was my team. It's just another team that I have to play."

A pitching staff that lost ace Roy Halladay in the offseason again came close to a no-hit gem. Shaun Marcum held Texas hitless for 6 1/3 innings on opening day before Vladimir Guerrero singled. There has been just one no-hitter in Toronto history, by Dave Stieb in 1990.

CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees neared a no-hitter last Saturday, shutting down Tampa Bay until Kelly Shoppach's two-out single in the eighth.

Pierzynski was granted first base in the eighth on a pitch that appeared to hit the dirt, not his right toe. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston came out to argue and home plate umpire Tim McClelland called the rest of the crew in to discuss the call, but let it stand.

"Unless you've got instant replay, that's the only way you can tell," Gaston said. "I asked about it, they said no and there's nothing else I can do about it."

Romero (1-0) started Rios with a called strike, then fell behind 2-1 before the two-time All-Star belted a changeup over the wall in left.

Romero turned around toward center field, put his hands on his knees and spit after the homer. He lowered his head and shouted as Rios circled the bases to a chorus of boos.

Once Rios crossed home plate, the crowd of 12,167 gave Romero a standing ovation, then gave him another as he left the field at the end of the inning. Romero covered his mouth with his glove and yelled at himself as he descended into the dugout, slamming his glove on top of the bench.

"I don't think the words I said I could say them on camera," Romero said with a smile. "It's one of those things where you feel it's so close and you know you're so close, and to let it get away like that, it definitely sucks."

Kevin Gregg worked the ninth for his third save as Toronto won for the 11th time in 12 games against the White Sox at Rogers Centre.

Romero also pitched well in his 2010 debut, limiting Texas to one run in seven innings. The 25-year-old lefty made his major league debut last season and went 13-9. He solidified his spot in the Toronto rotation with a 1.89 ERA in five starts during spring training.

"He had a great breaking ball," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "The main thing was throwing strikes. He may be the best guy we've faced all year long."

Romero's previous career best for strikeouts was nine, set June 16 at Washington. He topped that by fanning two in each of the first six innings.

"I had it all going," Romero said.

He had just two three-ball counts, walking Carlos Quentin in the fourth and Paul Konerko in the seventh.

"I'm not surprised [by] what he did tonight," Rios said. "He's pretty good. He can do that anytime he wants."

The White Sox didn't get a ball out of the infield until the seventh, when Quentin hit a one-out drive to center, but the ball hung up long enough for Vernon Wells to make an easy catch.

"I was one of the most dominant performances I've seen as a Blue Jay," Wells said. "It was fun to be a part of."

Rios, the only Chicago player not to strike out, had the only other hard-hit ball early on, a sharp one-hopper to shortstop leading off the third that was fielded by Alex Gonzalez.

Toronto opened the scoring in the second when Gonzalez singled and Wells doubled. Lyle Overbay, who came in 2 for 27 on the year, followed with an RBI single.

Edwin Encarnacion added a two-run double off Gavin Floyd (0-2) in the fifth.

Game notes
Floyd is 0-4 with a 7.22 ERA in five career starts against the Blue Jays. ... Toronto signed Cuban SS prospect Adeiny Hechavarria and will send him to the minor leagues.