Bautista goes deep twice to lead Blue Jays past Rays

Bautista goes deep twice to lead Blue Jays past Rays

TORONTO -- Jose Bautista hit a pair of home runs and Russell Martin added one of his own, as the Blue Jays cut their magic number in the American League East to five with a 10-8 victory over the Rays on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.

Toronto, which clinched a spot in the postseason on Friday night, stayed four games ahead of the Yankees for the top spot in the division. The Blue Jays are tied with the Royals for the top record in the AL, which would guarantee home-field advantage throughout the postseason, and based on their head-to-head record (4-3), Toronto is the No. 1 overall seed.

Gear up for Blue Jays' postseason

Tampa Bay technically remains alive in the AL Wild Card race, but its elimination number dropped to two after Houston defeated the Rangers, 9-7. The Rays are a distant six games back in chase for the second AL Wild Card spot, with four teams between them and the Astros.

Toronto scored five runs in the first inning off Rays right-hander Chris Archer and never looked back. Bautista delivered the early blow, with a three-run shot to left -- while Martin followed later in the first inning with a two-run shot. The Blue Jays went on to score four more against the Rays' ace, who was pulled midway through the fourth, in his shortest outing since May 7.

Martin's two-run homer

"We scored eight runs, and I gave up nine," Archer said. "It stinks, because I like to give my team a lot better performance."

Blue Jays left-hander David Price wasn't at the top of his game, but on this day it didn't matter. He allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits and one walk, while striking out six. He improved to 9-1 in 11 starts since joining Toronto prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but his ERA did rise from 2.34 to 2.45. It was the second time this month he was limited to five innings of work.

Bautista added to his impressive afternoon with a solo homer in the eighth. It was his fifth multi-homer game of the season, and the 28th of his career. He is one shy of reaching the 40-homer plateau for the third time in his career, and first since 2011. Tampa Bay rallied late with three runs in the ninth, but ultimately came up short and picked up its third consecutive loss.

"I think everybody coming in thinks it's going to be a low-scoring game, turned out just the opposite -- that's kind of the beauty of baseball, kind of the curse of baseball," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It was kind of an ugly win, but it was a good win."

Gibbons on playoff berth

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Ugly start: Archer did not get off to the kind of start on Saturday most envisioned. Ben Revere kickstarted Archer's troubles with an infield single to lead off the first. Josh Donaldson then walked before Bautista launched his 38th homer of the season into the left-field stands. One out later, Justin Smoak singled and Martin followed with his 22nd homer of the season. The five-run inning tied for the most against Archer this season. Texas and Kansas City also turned the trick against the Rays' ace.

Bautista's three-run homer

Piling on: Tampa Bay cut the lead to 5-4 in the third, but the Blue Jays once again went on the attack against Archer when they came to bat that inning. This time, it was doubles by Ryan Goins, Kevin Pillar and Revere that led to an additional two runs. Toronto added two more in the fourth on yet another double by Pillar and a sacrifice fly by Goins that made it a 9-5 game. Archer was pulled midway through the inning and his ERA soared from 2.92 to 3.26.

Pillar's second RBI double

Bring on the left-handers: Kevin Kiermaier did not have a home run against a left-hander this season until this week. Thursday night he homered against Boston left-hander Wade Miley. Saturday with one out in the fourth he struck again when he hammered a homer to deep center field against Blue Jays southpaw David Price. Kiermaier added a Willie Mays over-the-shoulder catch on a deep fly ball to center for the first out of the fifth. More >

Kiermaier's solo home run

Bringer of Runs: Price recently joked that the nickname, "Bringer of Runs," might be fitting -- considering the amount of runs Toronto scores when he's on the mound. Typically, he doesn't need a lot of run support. But it was a different story on Saturday afternoon. The AL Cy Young candidate had all sorts of trouble in a four-run third inning that included four hits, a walk and a throwing error charged to Toronto second baseman Cliff Pennington. Despite the rough inning, Price still cruised to his ninth victory in 11 starts since joining the Blue Jays, thanks to a productive day by his offense.

"That's the way it goes," Price said. "My last two starts against these guys, [haven't] gone the way I wanted [them] to."

QUOTABLE

"These guys, you look at their body of work over the course of the year. They don't have many games like this. So yeah, I think it's a little bit surprising. I don't think anybody would have thought that 18 runs would be scored in a game that featured Archer and Price." -- Rays manager Kevin Cash, on Saturday's high-scoring affair

"The way they've rallied around us for the last 60-70 games, it has been unreal. I don't know the numbers, but I'll go out on a limb and say nobody has the attendance that we've had the last 60-70 games. What they've done for us has been very big, and we have to acknowledge those guys in the stands. -- Price, on the fan base in Toronto More >

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

• Martin's home run in the first inning marked the first time in his career he went deep on a 3-0 count. The 22 homers also set a new career high, surpassing the previous total he set (21) in 2012 with the Yankees.

• The nine earned runs surrendered by Archer tied his career high, which occurred on July 8 in Kansas City. However, Archer lasted six innings against the Royals, while he lasted just 3 2/3 on Saturday.

WHAT'S NEXT

Rays: Matt Andriese (3-5, 4.37 ERA) will make his seventh start of the season and 22nd appearance on Sunday at 1:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. His last start at any level came on Aug. 13 vs. Norfolk (Orioles) for Triple-A Durham. Given the fact Andriese is not "stretched out," the Rays will likely use many pitchers. Fortunately for the Rays, many arms will be available, since the Rays have an off-day on Monday.

Blue Jays: Left-hander Mark Buehrle (14-7, 3.69 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out their three-game series against the Rays on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre. Buehrle is 14 2/3 innings shy of reaching the 200-inning plateau for the 15th consecutive year, which has only been done by three pitchers in MLB history (Warren Spahn, Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry). He has two starts remaining during the regular season, but Toronto manager John Gibbons also raised the possibility of using him out of the bullpen during the final game of the season.

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Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.