The Associated Press
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.–Toronto’s record against Tampa Bay since 2008 is its poorest against any AL team.
The Blue Jays last year won the season series for only the second time in a decade.
After losses in the first two games of their weekend series, the Jays felt pressure to produce a turnaround.
“We kind of saw this game as a game we really needed to win, to wrap up our road trip being successful,” Pillar said after scoring the tiebreaking run on Alex Colome’s wild pitch in the ninth to help lift the Blue Jays over the Rays 2-1 yesterday afternoon.
Toronto stopped a three-game losing streak.
“We know every time we come in this place, they play us tough,” Pillar added.
“The way we won it today is something to build on.”
Pillar doubled off Colome (2-4) leading off the ninth, advanced on Kendrys Morales’ grounder, and came home without a throw when Colome bounced a pitch off the mitt of catcher Wilson Ramos.
It was Toronto’s first win since the 11-inning opener of a doubleheader on Thursday at Cleveland.
“The last two games we weren’t quite all there, and I think it’s due to those long two games in Cleveland,” Toronto pitcher Marco Estrada said.
Jays’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz was carted off the field in the fifth inning after spraining his left ankle.
He wore a boot after the game.
Toronto manager John Gibbons was ejected for the third time in five days after Ryan Tepera was called for a balk by plate umpire Jeremie Rehak in the eighth.
“I just wanted an explanation,” Gibbons said. “Nobody calls balks anymore, not at that time of a close game.
“Don’t give away the game, that’s my beef,” he noted.
“If everybody does it all the time, I get it.”
Rookie Anthony Alford singled leading off the fifth, stole a base for the first time in the major leagues, advanced on Luke Maile’s flyout, and then scored on Diaz’s infield single to first baseman Brad Miller.
Diaz hit the side of the base while trying to avoid a collision with pitcher Chris Archer, who was covering.
Tepera (2-1) failed to protect an eighth-inning lead, allowing a home run to Carlos Gomez leading off the frame.
Gomez was 3-for-4 with his fifth home run this season, raising his average from .181 to .200.
Roberto Osuna allowed Daniel Robinson’s one-out single in the ninth, then got Mallex Smith to ground into a forceout before retiring Gomez on a groundout.
Estrada gave up four hits and three walks in six innings, lowering his ERA from 6.19 to 5.21.
He had allowed 18 runs in his four previous starts.
Archer yielded one run and five hits in a season-high seven innings.
Tampa Bay ran itself out of potential big inning when Smith and Gomez were caught stealing in quick succession the third.
Smith was thrown out by Estrada trying to steal home.
“I’ve seen him pitch before and [his windup] is slow, so I thought I could maybe see him slipping,” Smith said.
“[But] he was head’s up. Good play on his part.”
Elsewhere in the AL, Minnesota beat Chicago 5-3, New York downed Cleveland 7-4, Boston upended Texas 6-1, Oakland edged Baltimore 2-1, Kansas City doubled Detroit 4-2, and L.A. dumped Seattle 8-2.
Over in the NL, Colorado beat New York 3-2, San Francisco shaded Atlanta 4-3, Washington topped Philadelphia 5-4, Pittsburgh dumped Milwaukee 9-0, San Diego blanked L.A. 3-0, Miami downed Cincinnati 8-5, and St. Louis edged Chicago 4-3 (14 innings).
Arizona beat Houston 3-1 in interleague play.