TORONTO (AP)Matt Chapman hit two home runs, George Springer added a three-run shot and the Toronto Blue Jays maintained their position in the AL wild-card race, beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-3 on Friday night.
Chapman went 3 for 4 with three RBIs and three runs to help the Blue Jays (82-63) earn their AL-leading 39th comeback win.
”We’ve got our most important baseball left to play,” Chapman said. ”For me to be able to take good at bats and help this team is huge.”
Adley Rutschman hit a two-run home run and Gunnar Henderson added a solo shot for Baltimore (75-68). The Orioles finished with five hits and were unable to gain ground on the three leading wild-card contenders, Toronto, Tampa Bay and Seattle.
”We didn’t have our best night offensively,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said.
The Blue Jays moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Rays after Tampa Bay (80-64) lost 4-3 at home to Texas.
”Obviously, every game is crucial,” Chapman said of the tight AL playoff race. ”You’re playing against your own division but not only that, the calendar. There’s only so many games left. It’s hard to make up games. Any opportunity we can get to gain a game, whether it’s separating ourselves from Baltimore or putting the pressure on the teams that are right in the mix with us, every game is huge.”
Toronto improved to 34-17 when hitting two or more home runs, bouncing back from an 11-0 loss to the Rays on Thursday. The Blue Jays won for the fifth time in six meetings with the Orioles.
Chapman opened the scoring with a solo homer off Jordan Lyles in the second inning, his first since Aug. 20, ending a season-long 25-game drought.
”He’s always a threat to hit it hard,” interim manager John Schneider said.
Chapman made it 6-2 with a two-run shot off Joey Krehbiel in the sixth. The homers were his 25th and 26th. It was the 10th multi-homer game of his career.
”They’re a great offense,” Hyde said about Toronto. ”They’ve got a bunch of guys that can go deep.”
Julian Merryweather pitched two shutout innings in relief of Trevor Richards, who struck out the side in the first. Yusei Kikuchi (5-7) followed by allowing two runs in two innings.
Lyles (10-11) allowed four runs and five hits in five innings, his second straight losing decision.
”This is just one loss,” Lyles said. ”Obviously, the end of the season is upon us and each game means just that much more, but we’ve got a chance to win the series.”
Rutschman gave his team a 2-1 edge by homering off Yusei Kikuchi in the fourth, his 11th. The homer was Rutschman’s first off a left-handed pitcher.
”He’s struggled a little bit right-handed,” Hyde said of the switch-hitting Rutschman. ”Good to see him get his first home run.”
Springer restored Toronto’s lead with a two-out, full-count blast into the second deck in the fifth, his 21st.
”That was huge,” Chapman said.
Chapman drove in Bo Bichette’s leadoff single with another two-out homer in the sixth.
After Kikuchi, Tim Mayza, Adam Cimber and Anthony Bass each worked one scoreless inning before Yimi Garcia allowed Henderson’s homer in the ninth. The homer was Henderson’s second.
Blue Jays: C Alejandro Kirk (left hip) did not play for the third consecutive day.
Orioles: LHP Alex Wells was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.
STRONG IN SEPTEMBER
Toronto is 12-4 in September.
The Orioles and Blue Jays have split 14 meetings so far this season. Toronto concludes the regular season with three games at Baltimore.
TRAIL AND FAIL
The Orioles are 26-52 when their opponent scores first.
RHP Kyle Bradish (3-6, 5.01 ERA) starts Saturday for the Orioles. RHP Jose Berrios (10-5, 5.07) starts for the Blue Jays. Berrios is 7-0 in 10 career starts against Baltimore.
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