Marcus Stroman gave himself and the Toronto Blue Jays a birthday gift.
Stroman allowed one run in eight innings on his 25th birthday, Troy Tulowitzki hit a three-run homer during a four-run ninth and the Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 on Sunday.
“It was awesome,” Stroman said. “More importantly just to get the win.”
The Blue Jays took two of three to win just their fourth series in the last 27 trips to Tropicana Field.
Stroman (4-0) scattered three hits, walked two and struck out a career-high nine. The Blue Jays’ opening day starter is 8-0 in 10 starts since returning from knee surgery last year.
“A special kid,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “He’s got so many things that he can attack you with. He was on today.”
Jays’ bats came alive
Pinch hitter Darwin Barney doubled and Michael Saunders walked to open the ninth against Xavier Cedeno (2-1). Alex Colome entered and walked Josh Donaldson before striking out Jose Bautista.
After Edwin Encarnacion hit a tiebreaking RBI grounder, Tulowitzki made it 5-1 on his fifth homer.
“To come through on his birthday, it was nice,” Tulowitzki said. “He was great out there. It’s always fun to play behind him. Pitches with that intensity.”
Tulowitzki had been hitless in his previous 10 at-bats in the series and is hitting .172.
“They made a good move to bring in Barney,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He gets a big hit and you have that feeling, know that those guys coming up get paid to drive in runs. They capitalized and got the big hits.”
Donaldson’s ninth homer with one out in the fourth was the Blue Jays’ first hit and put Toronto up 1-0.
Evan Longoria tied it at 1 in the sixth on his fifth homer and second in as many days.
Jake Odorizzi gave up one run and two hits over seven innings for the Rays. Since the beginning of the 2014 season, the right-hander has allowed one earned run or fewer in 21 of 34 starts at home.
The three Tampa Bay starters in the series — Drew Smyly, Chris Archer and Odorizzi — allowed a combined five hits in 19 innings. Four of the hits were homers.
“As tough as it’s been, to get two out of three against those three pitchers down here you feel pretty good,” Gibbons said.
Toronto had 15 hits, including eight homers in the series to become the first major league team to be held to 15 or fewer hits and hit eight or more homers in a three-game series.
via Dick Scanlon, The Associated Press | Photo CBC.ca
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