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Blue Jays' 2 home runs too much for Dodgers

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Pillar hit a three-run home run against Joe Blanton in the eighth inning, lifting the Blue Jays over the Dodgers 5-2 in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

Blanton has arguably been the Dodgers' most reliable non-Kenley Jansen relief pitcher this season, and allowed only one run in 12 appearances entering Friday. He escaped a two-out bases loaded jam left by Adam Liberatore in the seventh inning, but the eighth inning proved Blanton's undoing.

The inning began with a fly ball to the center field wall by Jose Bautista for an out, but then Edwin Encarnacion hit a ground rule double, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position in a 2-2 tie. Manager Dave Robert opted to intentionally walk switch-hitter Justin Smoak, hitting .324/.500/.514 in 50 plate appearances against righties this season, in favor of the right-handed Pillar, a .283/.341/.395 in 83 PA against right-handers in 2016.

But the decision backfired, as Pillar lined a pitch from Blanton just over the left field wall, giving the Blue Jays a three-run lead, and ultimately a fourth straight win.

The Dodgers have lost eight of their last 10 games.

Kenta Maeda continued to impress, facing arguably his toughest test to date with the Blue Jays' formidable lineup. Yet he continued his stinginess, pitching scoreless ball into the sixth inning.

He did walk a season-high four after just six total walks in his first five starts, which helped elevate his pitch count. Maeda was extra careful through the middle of the order and walked Josh Donaldson twice.

Bautista popped out in each of his first two at-bats, but in the sixth, following the second walk to Donaldson, Bautista unloaded on a slider, depositing the ball 436 feet away into the seats in left center field to break the scoreless tie.

But that was all the damage against Maeda, who was able to finish the inning, the sixth straight time he has lasted at least six innings in the majors. He struck out seven, and made a career-high 102 pitches, one more than his last start, eight days ago.

Marcus Stroman was even better, striking out eight and pitching seven innings, but the Dodgers finally got to him in the seventh, tying the score with three consecutive two-out hits for a pair of runs.

The Dodgers had designs of another rally in the ninth inning, loading the bases with two outs against Drew Storen, but Corey Seager flew out to left field to end the game.

Up next

The Dodgers try to snap their two-game losing streak on Saturday morning, with Clayton Kershaw on the mound in a 10:07 a.m. PT start. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey starts the middle game of the series for Toronto.

Friday particulars

Home runs: Jose Bautista (6), Kevin Pillar (2)

WP - Gavin Floyd (1-2): 3 up, 3 down

LP - Joe Blanton (2-2): 1⅓ IP, 2 hits, 3 runs,1 walk

Sv - Drew Storen (2): 1 IP, 2 hits, 1 walk