ATLANTA -- Andrelton Simmons hit a walk-off single in the ninth inning as the Braves snapped a 12-game losing streak at Turner Field with a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
Toronto maintained its three-game lead in the American League East after the Yankees lost, 6-3, to the Rays. The Blue Jays dropped three games behind the Royals for the best record in the AL after Kansas City defeated the Indians, 2-0, earlier in the night.
Right-hander Aaron Sanchez took the loss after he pitched a scoreless eighth, but couldn't find similar success in the ninth. Atlanta's Adonis Garcia led off the frame with an infield single and A.J. Pierzynski followed with a single to right that put runners on the corners with nobody out. Cameron Maybin then grounded out to second against a drawn-in infield, but Simmons ended it one batter later with the opposite-field single.
"It's been a while since we've had a walk-off," Simmons said after helping the Braves snap a franchise-record 12-game home losing streak. "It was pretty exciting for me for sure. Guys were beating me up a little bit, so I think they were a little excited too."
Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle made his return to the mound after his last outing was pushed back three days so he could receive a cortisone shot in his left shoulder. He gave up some hard contact, but managed to survive five innings and didn't factor into the decision after surrendering two runs (one earned) on six hits and one walk. More >
Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran also didn't factor into the decision after he surrendered a pair of runs over 5 2/3 innings. He carried a 2-1 lead into the sixth, but then allowed an opposite-field homer to Justin Smoak before eventually departing with a pair of runners on base. It was his third consecutive outing in which he surrendered two runs or fewer.
"If the guy on the mound is good, he shuts you down, that's the way it goes," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "A big league team is a big league team. I know they've had their struggles, but they've been playing good baseball up until the break when they were about .500, and that's just the way it goes."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Sanchez struggles again: For the second time in his past two outings, Sanchez struggled when he was asked to pitch a second inning. In New York, his first inning was scoreless but then he walked a pair of batters in his next frame and eventually gave up a run that cost the Blue Jays the lead. In Atlanta, it was a similar situation as Sanchez pitched a scoreless eighth, but immediately found himself in trouble in the ninth. It was Sanchez's first loss as a reliever since Aug. 14.
"I felt like it was down," Sanchez said of Simmons' walk-off single. "He put a good swing on it, he hit it where he wanted to hit it. The infield was in. That doesn't help, but it is what it is. We'll move on and go get it tomorrow." More >
Teheran's splits: Toronto's right-handed hitters struck out in seven of their first eight plate appearances and went 1-for-12 against Teheran. But the Braves right-hander surrendered four hits, including Smoak's homer, and issued four walks in the 14 plate appearances against left-handed hitters. His determined effort was preserved by the Braves' bullpen, which worked 3 1/3 hitless innings and retired 10 of 11 batters faced. More >
Smoak'd: With Edwin Encarnacion out of the lineup because of a sore left middle finger, Smoak got the start at first base for the Interleague series opener and made his presence felt in the sixth with a solo shot to left field. According to Statcast™, Smoak's 16th of the year was projected to travel 350 feet and left his bat at 99 mph in a shot that just barely made it over the wall. Of Smoak's 57 hits this season, 30 of them have gone for extra bases.
Familiarity breeds success: Before capping a three-hit night with his key ninth-inning single, Pierzynski notched a second-inning double that led to a run and added a fourth-inning single.The Braves catcher is now 12-for-27 against Buehrle, his former White Sox batterymate. Pierzynski has served as Buehrle's catcher in 164 games, 83 more than any other Major Leaguer.
"I got a couple of weak ground balls that inning. I think I left one hanging to Pierzynski and he smacked it, which he should have. But you just move on." -- Sanchez, on the ninth inning
"To get a winning streak, you have to win one first. We had a chance to win on Sunday and we didn't. After an off-day [on Monday], you don't know how the guys are going to react. But I had a feeling they were going to come out and fight like they always have. We did that tonight." -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose team blew a three-run, ninth-inning lead in Sunday's loss to the Mets
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The Blue Jays turned four double plays, which matched their season high that was previously done on July 3 at Detroit.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Left-hander David Price will take the mound when the Blue Jays continue their three-game series against the Braves at Turner Field on Wednesday night at 7:10 p.m. ET. Since joining the Blue Jays, Price has yet to surrender more than three runs in a start and is 6-1 with a 2.28 ERA.
Braves: Atlanta will counter with Shelby Miller, who will be attempting to prevent matching the franchise record of 22 consecutive winless starts. Miller has posted a 3.51 ERA during this span, and he has allowed just two earned runs in the 15 innings he's completed over two career starts against the Blue Jays.