Blue Jays 7 Rays 6
TORONTO — Russell Martin hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth inning to lift the Toronto Blue Jays to a 7-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night.
Martin belted an 0-1 pitch from reliever Jose Alvarado (0-1) for his sixth homer of the year. The Rays had tied the game in the top half of the frame by scoring three runs — including a two-run homer by Logan Morrison — off reliever Joe Smith (3-0).
Closer Roberto Osuna worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 17th save as the Blue Jays split the two-game mini-series with their American League East rival.
Toronto (32-33) also moved within a game of the .500 mark and into a virtual tie with Baltimore for fourth place in the East. The Orioles had a late start against the Chicago White Sox due to a rain delay.
It was the second loss in eight games for Tampa Bay (35-33).
Kendrys Morales hit a three-run homer in Toronto’s four-run fifth inning. His no-doubt blast travelled an estimated 464 feet before landing in the second level of right-field seats at Rogers Centre.
Kevin Pillar scored twice and triple-A callup Dwight Smith Jr. had three of Toronto’s 10 hits. Blue Jays starter Francisco Liriano had nine strikeouts over seven innings but did not factor in the decision.
Before the game, the Blue Jays placed outfielder Ezequiel Carrera on the 10-day disabled list with a right foot fracture. Smith Jr. got the start in left field and delivered Toronto’s first hit of the game with a single in the second inning.
Ryan Goins made a rare error at second base in the third and the Rays took advantage.
Goins picked up Taylor Featherston’s grounder on the backhand but lost the handle when he went to make a throw. Peter Bourjos reached on an infield single and both scored on a Corey Dickerson triple.
Dickerson tried to score himself when Evan Longoria hit a chopper to the left side. Third baseman Josh Donaldson threw home and Martin had plenty of time to apply the tag.
Toronto halved the deficit in the bottom half of the frame.
Pillar reached on a leadoff walk, stole second and moved to third on catcher Derek Norris’s wide throw. After Bautista walked, Pillar scored when Morales beat out a potential double-play ball at first base.
The Rays loaded the bases in the fourth inning with nobody out, but couldn’t break things open.
Steven Souza Jr. walked and moved to second on Mallex Smith’s bunt single. Souza Jr. stole third base before Liriano walked Daniel Robertson.
Norris hit a chopper to Donaldson who threw home for the force. Featherston brought Smith home on a sacrifice fly and Liriano fanned Bourjos to limit the damage to one run.
The Blue Jays chased Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi in the fifth inning.
Goins led off with a single and moved to third when Featherston couldn’t corral a Pillar grounder at second base. Bautista drove in Goins with a single and Morales put Toronto ahead with his 13th homer of the season.
The Blue Jays tacked on another run in the sixth inning thanks in part to some poor Tampa defence.
After Martin singled, Smith Jr. hit a pop-up that the Tampa players couldn’t track in the evening sky. The ball dropped in shallow left field.
Goins moved the runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt and Martin scored on a wild pitch.
In the eighth, Smith gave up a single to Longoria before Morrison tagged his 19th homer of the year. Souza Jr. walked, moved to third on a pinch-hit single by Colby Rasmus, and tied the game when Norris hit a sacrifice fly.
The Blue Jays will get a day off before kicking off a three-game series against the visiting Chicago White Sox on Friday.
The Rays will continue their road swing with a four-game series against Detroit starting Thursday.
Notes: Smith Jr. was hitting .303 this season with the Buffalo Bisons. … Announced attendance was 37,734. … The game took three hours seven minutes to play. … The Rays had eight hits.