Marc Rzepczynski matched his season high of eight strikeouts as the Jays used the long ball to their advantage, defeating the Seattle Mariners 5-3 at Rogers Centre on Tuesday night.
Toronto (76-74) got home runs from Vernon Wells, Edwin Encarnacion and Travis Snider. Kevin Gregg pitched a shaky ninth inning but managed to get his personal-best 34th save of the year.
Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki is now just three hits shy of reaching 200 after going 4-for-4 from the plate, adding a walk and two runs in the performance. If (and when) Ichiro reaches the 200-hit mark, it will be for an unprecedented tenth straight season.
Ichiro was leading the majors in hits before the start of Tuesday’s game and thanks to another big night, he’s one step closer to doing it again for the seventh time in his career. Reaching that feat would tie him with Pete Rose and Ty Cobb for most seasons leading the majors in hits.
The Jays fell behind early in the first inning as Jose Lopez hit a line drive to right field, allowing Ichiro to score, giving Seattle (57-93) a 1-0 lead in the top half of the frame.
The Jays would follow with a strong first inning of their own as Vernon Wells hit his 28th home run of the season, a two-run shot, giving Toronto a 2-1 lead early, a lead they would not relinquish.
In the bottom of the second, Edwin Encarnacion pulled an off-speed pitch to left field for a solo home run to extend the lead to 3-1.
Toronto would continue their dominance of Mariners starter Luke French in the fourth inning when Travis Snider hit his tenth round-tripper of the season to right-centre field, scoring Encarnacion to push the lead to 5-1.
French would finish the game with seven innings pitched, allowing seven hits, five earned runs and one walk with two strikeouts.
While Jose Bautista left the Toronto faithful waiting in suspense for his 50th home run, he had a solid game at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a run.
Rzepczynski had great control of his breaking-ball all night as he earned only his second win of the season and his first since August 13 against the Anaheim Angels, ending a six-game winless skid.
Shawn Camp came in to relieve Rzep in the top of the seventh, finishing the game with 6.1 innings pitched, allowing only seven hits and three earned runs.
Camp faced just one batter, Jose Lopez, and struck him out to end the inning.
Scott Downs took to the mound for the eighth and registered a three-up-three-down inning, sending Kevin Gregg to the ninth to register the save.
Gregg retired his first batter of the ninth, but Matt Tuiasosopo sent a looper to shallow left field but Travis Snider couldn’t get a glove on it, giving the Mariners hope for a comeback.
John McDonald took one out away from the Mariners when he robbed Josh Wilson of a sure hit, diving down the third baseline to snag line drive.
Ichiro and Chone Figgins would register back-to-back singles after that, scoring Tuiasosopo from third to put the winning run at the plate, but Gregg would settle down, catching Lopez swinging on a cut fastball to end the threat and the ball game.