ST. PETERSBURG — The Blue Jays have had a rough go of it lately, scoring one run in their past 24 innings going into Friday's game against the Rays.
And against Drew Smyly, it appeared Toronto's offensive woes would carry over.
The Rays left-hander mowed the Jays down through the first five innings, striking out six and giving up one hit during that span.
But Michael Saunders proved it only takes one swing to make something happen.
The leftfielder notched the first hit of the game for the Blue Jays, a solo home run to center in the third inning — his second against Smyly this season — giving Toronto a lead it wouldn't relinquish en route to a 6-1 win over the Rays.
The Blue Jays hit four home runs in the game and scored two more runs on a single by Justin Smoak.
"I thought I made a lot of good pitches," Smyly said, "just a couple pitches went for home runs, and we couldn't score."
Early on, all the offensive urgency was coming from the Rays.
Logan Forsythe started things off in the first with a leadoff single, and Brad Miller followed with another single. But the Blue Jays got three quick outs to end the inning.
The Rays (10-12) threatened again in similar fashion in the third, as Forsythe doubled and Miller walked. Once again, though, Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez got out of the jam, ending the inning with his fourth strikeout. Sanchez struck out six in seven scoreless innings.
"He's been locating well. For him, you kind of have to attack early … because if he's locating, he's going to be tough all night," Forsythe said of Sanchez. "He was doing that. There were just a couple balls he left back over the plate, and me and Brad found the barrel."
Despite Smyly giving up two home runs — the only hits he gave up in six innings — he looked sharp, striking out eight to bring his season total to 41, tying the club record for April strikeouts set by David Price in 2014.
"We're going to have really good performances and lose some of those games, and we're going to have some not-so-good performances and end up winning," manager Kevin Cash said. "Drew Smyly has gone out there and given us a chance to win just about every time he's taken the hill."
Forsythe, who finished 2-for-4, stood out offensively, reaching base in his first three at-bats. But in his fourth, with Kevin Kiermaier on first after a seventh-inning single, he grounded out to end the inning, stranding yet another Rays runner.
Saunders hit his second homer of the game in the eighth off reliever Dana Eveland, the sixth multihomer game of his career. The Rays' only run came on a Miller home run in the eighth.
"We've been playing well, I just don't think we're all together just quite yet," Forsythe said.