TORONTO — Jose Bautista had a game to remember.
The Toronto Blue Jays right-fielder had his 15th homer of the season, hit into a triple play, threw a runner out at home and was interfered with by a fan as he tried to catch a foul ball in the ninth that resulted in an out after a video review.
To top it off, the Blue Jays defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 for their sixth win in a row on Friday.
“I think it’s got to be the most eventful game I’ve had in my career,” said Bautista, who also extended his hit streak to 12 games. “I’d like to see if anyone can find somebody else with that combination of plays.”
Right-hander Marcus Stroman pitched into the seventh inning in his second major-league start, both of them wins. He walked off to a standing ovation.
“It’s pretty special,” Stroman said. “I tried to do my best tough guy impersonation and tried not to smile. But it was definitely pretty special walking off.”
Bautista lined into a triple play in the sixth inning, the seventh time a triple play had beeen turned by a Blue Jays’ opponent. It was the first triple play against Toronto since May 12, 2008, in the second game of a doubleheader at Cleveland.
“It’s the first time it’s happened to me,” Bautista said.
Stroman (3-0) held the Cardinals to one run on seven hits, two walks and a hit batter while striking out seven. He was lifted after a leadoff single in the seventh by Tony Cruz.
Casey Janssen pitched the ninth inning for his 11th save of the season. Janssen’s second out came as a result of fan interference when Bautista tried to catch a foul ball hit by Cruz. The play was reviewed and Cruz was called out.
“I just felt that somebody stuck a glove right in my face,” Bautista said, “And I felt there was some contact there that prevented me from making the play. Obviously (the fan) was caught up in the emotion, just like everybody else. The ball is coming to him, he wants a ball hit by a major-leaguer at a major-league baseball game. He’s not thinking about the play the way I am so you can’t blame him for it. But again it doesn’t matter they reviewed it and made the right call.”
Right-hander Lance Lynn (6-4) took the loss, allowing six hits — including two home runs — and four walks while striking out six in five innings.
The Cardinals (31-31) scored a run in the first. Matt Carpenter led off with a walk and took third on Matt Holliday’s ground-rule double to right. Allen Craig singled to right to score Carpenter but Holliday was thrown out at home by Bautista.
“I think it’s always a good play when you can throw anybody out and prevent a run.” Bautista said. “Whether (Stroman) needed that at that moment in the game that’s more for him to answer, not me. I think he still would have pitched a pretty good game.
“The ball was hit to me at the right rate of speed. And I had a chance to throw him out. Dioner (Navarro) made a play terrific play, a fine play because my throw wasn’t as good as it could have been and he still managed to catch the ball as it was going toward the runner and stay away from the running lane that they now have to give and still tag him out. So that was a pretty good play.”
Second baseman Brett Lawrie followed it up with a fine play on Yadier Molina’s grounder to end the inning.
“That is just huge momentum and puts you back into your groove and kind of lets you know your guys are behind you.” Stroman said.
“Right out of the gate he struggled a little bit but then he started using all his pitches,” manager John Gibbons said. “He was primarily pumping the fastballs in there and when he started using his breaking ball, his change-up a little bit, it made all the difference in the world.”
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny acknowledged that Stroman kept the Cardinals hitters on their heels.
“He kept us off balance,” said Mike Matheny. “He had good life on his fastball. We saw a lot of swings and misses, probably more swings and misses than what we saw on any kind of video we had on him, with his breaking ball. I thought his breaking ball was more of a weapon today than what we’d seen in the past.”
The Blue Jays (38-24) left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first and stranded two in the second. But they tied it 1-1 in the third when Bautista led off with a homer, a high drive to left on a 2-1 fastball.
Lawrie lined his 11th homer of the season to centre on a 2-1 fastball with two out in the fifth to give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead. Bautista hit into a triple play in the sixth inning on a liner to second baseman Descalso.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases against right-handed reliever Seth Maness with singles from Anthony Gose and Jose Reyes and Carpenter’s error on a grounder to third by Melky Cabrera. Bautista lined a 2-0 sinker to Descalso who threw to shortstop Jhonny Peralta who caught Reyes off second. Peralta then threw to Craig who stepped on first before Cabrera could return to the base.
“I did everything I could,” Bautista said. “I laid off two bad pitches, swung at the one in the zone, hit it hard and it went right at somebody.”
The Blue Jays scored a run in the eighth. Lawrie and Navarro singled against right-hander Jason Motte to put runners at first and third. Reyes singled to right to cash in Lawrie and send pinch-runner Kevin Pillar to third.
NOTES: The 25th anniversary of the first baseball game at Rogers Centre, formerly SkyDome, was celebrated on Friday with former Toronto pitcher Jimmy Key throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to his one-time catcher Ernie Whitt. They formed the Blue Jays’ battery in the first at SkyDome on June 5, 1989, a 5-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. a Cito Gaston, who managed the Blue Jays in that game, took the lineup card to the umpires before the game. a The interleague series continues Saturday with left-hander Mark Buehrle (10-1, 2.10 earned-run average) starting for Toronto against right-hander Shelby Miller (6-5, 4.06 ERA) going for the Cardinals. a Attendance was 33,528.