Picking up slack for Blue Jays, Tulo drives in 5

Picking up slack for Blue Jays, Tulo drives in 5

TORONTO -- While the Blue Jays lost Jose Bautista to the disabled list earlier in the day, it was another veteran who stepped up on Wednesday.

Troy Tulowitzki set the tone for the Blue Jays' offense in their 7-0 victory over the Rays, smacking a three-run, first-inning home run and driving in a season-high five runs.

The 31-year-old shortstop had his fair share of struggles earlier in the season -- compounded with a stint on the 15-day DL due to a right quad strain -- but he has continued his second-half surge and was at the forefront when the Blue Jays needed it most on Wednesday.

Tulowitzki finished 2-for-3 on the evening, adding a bases-loaded walk in the second inning and an RBI single in the sixth, becoming the first Toronto shortstop to drive in five runs since Yunel Escobar accomplished the feat on Aug. 29, 2012.

Tulowitzki's RBI single

"It's next man up," Tulowitzki said about the Blue Jays' team mentality. "I think it's been like that all year. I think if you look throughout the season, we've been missing somebody, myself included, for a little bit of time. Obviously [Bautista] now twice, [Kevin Pillar] too.

• Bautista to DL with knee sprain

"That happens. If you look around the league, there's guys who go down. This team is resilient and does a good job stepping up."

Tulowitzki's first-inning home run also snapped a franchise-record stretch of 17 straight solo home runs by Blue Jays batters. It was Toronto's first home run with runners in scoring position since July 20 against the D-backs, a span of 18 games.

While the overall numbers don't stand out, Tulowitzki has hit .296 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs in 40 games since coming off the DL. The Long Beach State alum hit just .199 prior to that stint on the DL, but he has now recorded a hit in eight of his last 10 games, and is focused on helping Toronto continue to contend for a second consecutive American League East title.

"I don't really focus on myself since I got here," Tulowitzki said. "It's all about winning games. Obviously you want to do good for yourself, because it's going to help your team win games, but the bottom line is it's all about wins and losses."

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.