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Walker pitches in, Jays get timely hitting to beat Phillies and end six-game losing streak

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (11) tags out Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm during the seventh inning at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday.
Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (11) tags out Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm during the seventh inning at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday.

Charlie Montoyo might have wanted to pull his mask up over his eyes in the seventh inning on Sunday in Philadelphia.

The Blue Jays, desperately looking to end a season-high six-game losing streak, were in control against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, holding a five-run lead before the home club scored a couple of runs after two Toronto errors.

“It’s funny, because when you are going through a losing streak, you are always waiting for the worst,” Montoyo, the Jays manager, said. “When we made those errors in the seventh, it was like ‘Oh my god, what’s going to happen now?’ But credit to the guys and to the bullpen to minimize damage and do a good job.”

Indeed, reliever Thomas Hatch wasn’t fazed, and the Jays persevered through the inning, going on to win 6-3.

The Jays moved to a game over .500 (27-26) and combined with a Seattle Mariners loss to San Diego on Sunday, saw their magic number to clinch a playoff spot drop to four.

A day after the Jays couldn’t take advantage of a fine start by Hyun-Jin Ryu, they put a solid outing by Taijuan Walker (4-3) to good use.

In six innings, Walker, who became the first Jay to hit 100 pitches in a game this season, matched his season-high with eight strikeouts.

“It was huge,” Montoyo said. “We needed him to go as deep as he did and he did a great job. Really outstanding. A tough first inning, and after that he was really good.”

The Jays got to Phillies starter Adonis Medina (0-1), making his debut in the majors, immediately with two runs in the first inning.

Cavan Biggio, after drawing a leadoff walk, advanced to third on a double by Bo Bichette.

With Teoscar Hernandez at the plate, Medina committed a balk, bringing Biggio home and sending Bichette to third.

Up next was Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who singled off the glove of shortstop Didi Gregorius, allowing Bichette to score.

Medina then settled down, striking out Randal Grichuk and getting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to ground into a forceout.

Toronto’s mini outburst marked just the fifth time in 53 games this season they scored two or more runs in the first.

Philadelphia got one run back in the bottom of the first. With two out, Alec Bohm walked and scored on Gregorius double off the wall in right.

The Jays beat up on Phillies reliever Heath Hembree for four runs to break the game open.

Jonathan Davis doubled over the head of leftfielder Adam Haseley with two out in the sixth. That clutch hit scored Gurriel, who led off with a double, and Joe Panik, who walked.

“It felt great for the group,” Davis said. “You could tell by the reaction in the dugout. Guys were relieved and at the same time excited for us to get some breathing room.”

The Toronto lead was extended to 6-1 in the seventh. After Bichette tripled off the wall in centre-right — the first career triple for the 22-year-old — Hernandez came up and homered to centre on a 3-0 pitch, his 16th home run of 2020.

GUERRERO IN AND OUT

After getting a rest on Saturday from starting, Guerrero was back at first base on Sunday and went 0-for-4.

Travis Shaw was inserted at first in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement.

“We needed defence there at the end,” Montoyo said. “(Guerrero) is learning how to play the position and I know Shaw has been good there, so that’s why we made that move.”

Errors by Guerrero and Panik helped result in those two Phillies runs in the seventh.

THE SHOE FITS

Montoyo confirmed that veteran righthander Matt Shoemaker will get the ball on Monday when the Jays begin a four-game series against the New York Yankees in Buffalo, with Tanner Roark starting on Tuesday.

“He is ready to go,” Montoyo said of Shoemaker.

Shoemaker has been out for the past month with a lat strain.

“Shoe looks great,” Jays pitching coach Pete Walker said. “He has come a long way in a short amount of time, considering what he went through. I’m real happy where he is.

“His last live BP (on Wednesday) was exceptional — his stuff was there, velocity was there, the spin on the breaking ball, the split, so he is pretty much ready to go. He is in a position to help right now.”

PEARSON CLOSER

Nate Pearson is scheduled to pitch live batting practice on Monday in his latest step in coming back from right elbow tightness.

“We’re anticipating a couple of innings and get him some good work and I’m looking forward to actually seeing him,” Walker said. “I have seen some video, I have read the reports, everything is trending in the right direction. The velocity is there, he is feeling really good, he is recovering well, so I’m anxious to see him and then we can make a decision.

“If everything is good and he is feeling good, he is someone who can help us out for sure.”

Jordan Romano (right middle finger strain) started mound progression on Saturday.

“Reports are encouraging,” Walker said. “It seems like he is trending in the right direction.”

DIAMOND DUST

Anthony Bass got the final four outs for his sixth save … Rowdy Tellez (right knee strain) has been hitting in the cage in batting practice … Rafael Dolis (right knee discomfort) remains day to day, but Montoyo was hopeful that Dolis could pitch on Monday if required … Pitcher Julian Merryweather, dealing with velocity issues, was not available on Sunday, Montoyo said.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

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Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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