TORONTO — Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drove in a pair of late runs and the Toronto Blue Jays bounced back from a rough start to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 on Saturday.
The Toronto win spoiled a stellar outing from reigning American League Cy Young winner Blake Snell, who pitched six innings of one-hit ball with nine strikeouts and a walk.
But with Snell out of the game in the seventh inning, the Blue Jays (5-10) pounced on reliever Chaz Roe. Justin Smoak started the rally with a single and a Randal Grichuk double put runners on second and third to set the table for Gurriel’s two-run double.
Teoscar Hernandez padded Toronto’s lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. Closer Ken Giles worked around a one-out base hit in the ninth for his fourth save.
Austin Meadows drove in a sixth-inning run for the AL East-leading Rays (12-3), the only blemish on a stellar start from Clay Buchholz in his Blue Jays debut.
The 34-year-old right-hander went six solid innings in the no-decision, allowing one run and six hits with two strikeouts in his first major-league start since last September.
Buchholz, who spent 10 seasons in the AL East with the Boston Red Sox, signed a one-year deal with Toronto during spring training. He’d been rehabbing from an elbow flexor strain suffered last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
As good as Buchholz was, Snell stole the show for most of the game.
Toronto did not get its first base-runner until the fourth when Snell walked Smoak with one out, and did not record a hit until the bottom of the sixth, a one-out single from Luke Maile.
The Blue Jays have gone hitless through the first five innings in five of their 15 games this season. That ominous trend began Day 1 with Toronto’s home opener, when Detroit’s Jordan Zimmermann took a perfect game into the seventh before it was broken up.
Blue Jays hitters came into Saturday with a combined .202 batting average, their lowest through the first 14 games of a season in franchise history.
Tampa threatened in the eighth with a Mike Zunino lead-off triple. But Joe Biagini got two strikeouts and Tim Mayza got pinch-hitter Daniel Robertson swinging to end the frame.
Thomas Pannone (1-2) worked the top of the seventh to earn the win. Roe (0-2) was saddled with the loss.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo used a video review challenge on a double play in the fourth when Hernandez was called out at first. The call was overturned. Montoyo had elected not to use a challenge on a potential game-altering play during Friday night’s loss and said before Saturday’s game he should have used it in that situation.
NOTES: Infielder Richard Urena was optioned to triple-A Buffalo before the game to make room for Buchholz on Toronto’s roster. … Toronto shortstop Freddy Galvis had a seven-game hitting streak snapped. … Attendance was 20,771. … The Blue Jays cap the three-game series Sunday. Marcus Stroman will start for Toronto. He’s 5-5 with a 4.58 ERA in 13 career starts versus Tampa Bay.
Melissa Couto, The Canadian Press