ATLANTA—Marco Estrada keeps showing he belongs in Toronto’s post-season rotation.
That’s quite an accomplishment for a pitcher who began the season in the bullpen.
Estrada combined with Roberto Osuna on a three-hitter, and Cliff Pennington, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson all homered, as the Blue Jays blanked the Atlanta Braves 5-0 last night to extend their lead in the AL East.
The Jays lead the N.Y. Yankees, who did not play last night, by 3.5 games.
Toronto won two of three games for their first series win over the Braves since 2008.
Estrada (13-8) allowed three hits with four strikeouts and two walks in eight innings.
He did not allow a runner to reach second base.
“He shut them down; he’s been doing it all year,” noted Jays’ manager John Gibbons.
Estrada lowered his ERA to 3.14 with his third start of the season with at least eight scoreless innings.
His .206 opponents’ batting average leads the American League.
It’s quite a season considering his first six appearances came in relief.
“I just want to help the team any way possible,” Estrada said when asked to reflect on his move from the bullpen.
Adding to his memorable night was his single in Toronto’s four-run fourth.
“I got lucky,” he quipped.
Encarnacion led off the fourth with his 33rd homer, off Matt Wisler (5-8).
Pennington hit a three-run shot later in the inning.
He’s hit just three homers this season but two on the 6-4 road trip.
“I’m definitely not trying to hit homers but I’ll take ’em if they come,” Pennington said.
Donaldson added a ninth-inning homer off Sugar Ray Marimon. The three homers boosted Toronto’s season total to 207—most in the majors.
Osuna pitched a perfect ninth.
Wisler allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings.
In AL action, L.A. topped Minnesota 11-8, Oakland beat Chicago 4-2, Baltimore edged Tampa Bay 4-3, Kansas City doubled Cleveland 8-4, and Texas dumped Houston 8-2.