Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Robbie Ray pitches in the first inning of an American League baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, in Toronto on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jon Blacker

Ray fans 14, Kirk drives in go-ahead run as Blue Jays defeat White Sox 3-1

Blue Jays 3 White Sox 1

TORONTO — Robbie Ray had a season-high 14 strikeouts over seven innings and Alejandro Kirk drove in Teoscar Hernandez with the go-ahead run in the eighth as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Chicago White Sox 3-1 on Wednesday night.

Reliever Tim Mayza (4-1) worked a scoreless eighth inning before closer Jordan Romano earned his 13th save.

Hernandez started the rally with a two-out single off reliever Aaron Bummer (2-5). He moved to second on a single by pinch-hitter Breyvic Valera and came across when Kirk lashed a 2-2 pitch to centre field.

The Blue Jays tacked on an insurance run when Jose Ruiz walked Randal Grichuk with the bases loaded. The White Sox could have escaped the inning a batter earlier but third baseman Yoan Moncada misplayed a chopper by Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Toronto entered play 5 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the race for the second American League wild-card spot. The White Sox, who have dropped four of five, entered with a 10-game lead on second-place Cleveland in the AL Central.

Chicago (73-55) scratched out a run on Ray in the third inning. Leury Garcia led off with a single, stole second base and swiped third before trotting home when Moncada hit a flare just inside the right-field foul line.

Toronto (66-59) pulled even in the fourth when Corey Dickerson tripled off White Sox starter Lucas Giolito to bring home Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who reached on a one-out single.

Ray kept the White Sox batters guessing all evening. He retired nine in a row before issuing a two-out walk to Jose Abreu in the sixth inning.

Guerrero walked in the bottom half of the frame to reach base for the 217th time this season. That moved him past Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman for the major-league lead in the category.

The Toronto slugger moved to second on an infield single by Dickerson but both were stranded when Kirk grounded out.

Kirk scorched the ball at 108.2 m.p.h. — the hardest hit ball by a Blue Jay in the game — but shortstop Tim Anderson knocked it down and threw him out in plenty of time.

Chicago had back-to-back one-out singles in the seventh as Ray cleared the 100-pitch marker. The left-hander struck out Seby Zavala and then tied his career high for strikeouts by fanning Anderson as the Rogers Centre crowd of 14,276 roared its approval.

Ray allowed five hits, one earned run and walked a batter. Giolito had an identical line, but with one fewer inning and six strikeouts.

Notes: Before the game, the Blue Jays reinstated reliever Joakim Soria (finger inflammation) from the 10-day injured list and optioned fellow right-hander Connor Overton to triple-A Buffalo. … The game took three hours six minutes to play. … The Blue Jays will send left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-6, 3.54 ERA) to the mound for the finale of the four-game series on Thursday afternoon. The White Sox have yet to confirm their starter.