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Jays blow lead but still win

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—Even in a down year, the Toronto Blue Jays are as capable of going deep as any team in baseball.

They showed that off last night.

Kevin Pillar hit Toronto's sixth home run of the game in the eighth inning—lifting the Jays to a 7-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

“It would have been nice to hit some homers with runners on base but that's just the way it happens,” said Steve Pearce, who hit one of three homers in the second inning.

“Tonight was just a typical Rays-Jays matchup.”

Pillar snapped a 6-6 tie with a homer off Tommy Hunter (2-5) to help the Jays snap a four-game losing streak.

“Unfortunately, I left a ball up and that's the end of it,” said Hunter, who has given up home runs in four of his last six appearances.

Kevin Keirmaier hit two home runs and scored three times for the Rays, who came back from 5-0 down to the tie it before losing for the ninth time in 12 games.

Ryan Tepera (7-1) got the win while Roberto Osuna recorded the final four outs for his 33rd save.

Josh Donaldson's 22nd home run—his 13th in 24 games—got the Jays off to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Ryan Goins, Raffy Lopez, and Pearce added solo shots off starter Austin Pruitt in the second, putting Toronto up 5-0.

Lopez' homer was the first of his career.

Toronto entered play yesterday ranked 13th in the majors with 168 homers after finishing among the top four teams each of the past four seasons.

Keirmaier's ninth home run came with a man on in the third, then Steven Souza Jr.'s 27th homer cut the lead to 5-3 in the fourth.

After Justin Smoak's 34th home run stretched it to 6-3 in the fifth, Kiermaier hit his second homer of the game.

RBI singles by Brad Miller in the sixth and Evan Longoria in the seventh tied it at 6-6, but the Rays had two runners on with one out and failed to score again.

“It would have been nice to get another run and take the lead there,” said Kiermaier, who has hit safely in all five games since his return from a hip fracture.

“No moral victories, especially in August and September,” he stressed.

“We need to win these kind of games.”

Pruitt gave up five runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Toronto starter Marcus Stroman, who had given up only one home run in his 10 previous starts, gave up five runs and eight hits, including three homers, in 5 1/3 innings.

“Our offence is extremely powerful when we're clicking on all cylinders,” Stroman noted.

“I have the utmost confidence in every single one of those guys 1-through-9, especially when I'm out there.”

The combined nine home runs tied a Rays' franchise record.

On a night when Commissioner Rob Manfred showed up and urged Tampa Bay to speed up the process of building a new stadium for the Rays, the attendance was 8,264—the lowest for a Rays home game since 2006.

Stroman and LHP J.A. Happ will make their next starts on six days of rest because of the addition of Tom Koehler to the rotation.

Koehler, acquired from the Miami Marlins on Saturday, was to make his first start for the Jays in the series finale this afternoon.

It will be the Rays' final game before a nine-game road trip.

Elsewhere in the AL, Chicago edged Minnesota 4-3, Baltimore topped Oakland 8-7 (12 innings), Boston beat Cleveland 6-1, New York dumped Detroit 10-2, and Texas upended L.A. 7-5.

Houston beat Washington 6-1, Seattle topped Atlanta 9-6, and Kansas City downed Colorado 6-4.

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