By Gregor Chisholm and Alykhan Ravjiani
TORONTO -- Mike Trout had three hits and drove in four runs Thursday night as the Angels made sure the Blue Jays could not get too comfortable sitting alone atop the standings in the American League East with a 6-3 victory at Rogers Centre.
Toronto had an opportunity to pull one game ahead of Boston, but instead both teams still find themselves tied following a pair of losses on Thursday. That created the possibility for a three-way tie in the standings, but the Orioles also lost, 4-0, in Washington to remain one game back.
Trout did most of the damage offensively for Los Angeles, as he went 3-for-4 with a run scored, while Albert Pujols just missed a home run in the first inning and finished with a pair of hits, including a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning for his 100th RBI of the season. Third baseman Kaleb Cowart added an RBI double and right-hander Jered Weaver scattered five hits over 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball.
"Obviously there's not much we can do in our own division," Weaver said. "Any time you can play the bearer of bad news to teams that are in a race, it's definitely something to play for."
Left-hander J.A. Happ was saddled with the loss despite carrying a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning. Happ cruised through five scoreless innings, but then got himself into some difficulty by loading the bases in the sixth and surrendering a two-run single to Trout and an RBI single to Pujols. Happ was charged with four runs on six hits and one walk over five-plus innings, as his record dropped to 17-4.
Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson hit a solo home run in the loss, while Jose Bautista had a double and two RBIs in his first game since being activated from the 15-day disabled list. That was not enough to overcome the fact that Trout and Pujols combined to go 13-for-24 with two home runs, two doubles and nine RBIs in the series.
"One is going to the Hall of Fame, one eventually probably will," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "The thing about Trout, he's got that short, compact swing, so he's tough to pitch to. He can turn around anybody's fastball, he's that good. He was hitting the ball to right field, left field, it didn't matter, he was really locked in. Albert has been doing it his whole career, and he had a big-time series."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Making history: One night after passing Mark McGwire for 10th place on the all-time home run list, Pujols made even more history on Thursday with his 100th RBI of the season to put the Angels ahead, 3-2, during their four-run sixth inning. The Dominican-born slugger joins Alex Rodriguez (14), Jimmie Foxx, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig as the only players with 13 seasons of 100-plus RBIs.
"I think when my career ends and I settle down, I can sit back and enjoy," Pujols said. "Right now, to be able to soak everything in and think about that is hard for me. I'm just very blessed to have the opportunity to accomplish that. Sixteen years is a long time, but to be able to do that, you have to give credit to a lot of my teammates for getting on base and coaches for helping me out with my swing." More >
Trouble with the RISP: Toronto fell behind 4-2 in the top of the sixth, but in the bottom half of the inning, the club had a perfect opportunity to get back into the game. Kevin Pillar and Melvin Upton Jr. hit a pair of two-out singles, while Ezequiel Carrera walked to load the bases. That chased Weaver from the game, as Jose Valdez entered to face Darwin Barney. The count went to 1-1 before Barney grounded out to second base to end the threat.
"There's not a lot of season left, but we're due," Gibbons said. More >
Fishing for more: Trout extended the Angels' lead to 6-2 with a two-out, two-run single off Joaquin Benoit in seventh. The perennial AL MVP candidate recorded a season-high-tying four RBIs, while notching his 11th three-hit game of the year.
"Mike is a special talent," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He hits good pitchers, and obviously, just like any hitter, you're going to have periods when you're not as productive, but he's as good as there is. He came up in the right spots tonight and got hits. When Mike is right, there's no doubt he's one guy the other team doesn't want to have beat them. He's capable of doing the things he did this series."
Making it rain: Donaldson extended Toronto's lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning with a deep solo shot to straight away center field. According to Statcast™, Donaldson's 29th homer of the year traveled a projected 453 feet, which was his second longest of the year. The ball left Donaldson's bat at 111.3 mph and landed in the WestJet Flight Deck, which is located on the second deck in center field. It was Donaldson's fourth home run of the month and first since Aug. 13.
"It was a non-issue. It was just one of those things where you need 60 seconds to let the sting die down a little bit. I was good to go, it didn't affect me at all." -- Happ, who was struck on his left foot by a line drive during the Angels' four-run sixth inning
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The Blue Jays and Angels are now an even .500 (201-201) in the all-time series.
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (4-11, 5.22 ERA) gets the ball as the Angels open a three-game set against the Tigers on Friday, with first pitch set for 4:10 p.m. PT. Nolasco has gone 0-3 with a 5.70 ERA in four starts for the Angels since being acquired from the Twins at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Blue Jays: Left-hander Francisco Liriano (6-12, 5.21) will get to face one of his former teams when the Blue Jays open a three-game series vs. the Twins on Friday at 7:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. This will be Liriano's fourth start since joining Toronto, and he has allowed seven earned runs in 17 2/3 innings during that span.