Thursday, November 23, 2017
Sports

Bats, Happ carry Blue Jays into AL East lead

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TORONTO — With one big inning and another strong start from J.A. Happ, the Blue Jays moved into the AL East lead.

Happ won his eighth straight decision, Devon Travis homered and Toronto used a seven-run fifth to beat the Orioles 9-1 Saturday, taking sole possession of first place for the first time since early April.

"There's still a lot of baseball left, but I feel we're starting to play good ball," Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said.

Toronto, which won for the 16th time in 22 games, had not been alone atop its division since a 2-0 start. The Blue Jays have scored seven or more runs in an inning three times this season.

Kevin Pillar had two hits and drove in four runs to match his career high. Major-league RBI leader Edwin Encarnacion drove in his 89th run.

Pedro Alvarez hit a solo homer for the Orioles, who matched a season high by losing their fifth straight and fell a half-game behind the Blue Jays.

"Obviously, we're not playing the way we're capable of right now," Baltimore pitcher Yovani Gallardo said.

Happ matched a season high with 11 strikeouts in what manager John Gibbons called "a dominating outing." Happ struck out a career-high 12 against Baltimore on Aug. 7, 2014.

"He hit his spots pretty well," Baltimore's Mark Trumbo said. "There won't a whole lot to hit."

Josh Donaldson had two singles and walked twice before being replaced by pinch-runner Darwin Barney in the eighth. Gibbons said Donaldson had tightness in his hamstring.

Alvarez connected on an 0-and-2 pitch with two out in the second. Travis tied it with a line-drive homer off Gallardo in the fifth. Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson walked, Encarnacion hit an RBI double and Michael Saunders was intentionally walked.

"I just wasn't able to get ahead of guys like I was doing early in the game," Gallardo said.

Former Plant High standout Mychal Givens walked Troy Tulowitzki, then gave up two-run doubles to Russell Martin and Kevin Pillar.

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