Homers doom Rays in series-opening loss to Blue Jays

TORONTO (AP) — Rays manager Kevin Cash knows it’s not easy to pitch against the Blue Jays.

"You don’t come up for air," Cash said before his team took on Toronto’s power-laden lineup.

For Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi, facing the Blue Jays was a suffocating strain.

Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Kevin Pillar all homered, R.A. Dickey pitched seven innings to earn his 100th career win and the Blue Jays beat Odorizzi and the Rays 5-3 on Friday night.

"I really had to work tonight," Odorizzi said of his five-inning struggle. "I feel thankful that I only gave up four runs. I made a lot of good pitches to get out of jams, which it seemed like I was in all night. I just really had to fight and claw my way through it."

Toronto’s plate discipline made Odorizzi (8-9) work even harder.

"They didn’t expand the zone whatsoever," the right-hander said. "There were a lot of pitches I thought would get swings and they were laying off both high and low. They weren’t swinging at anything other than a strike."

The victory moved Toronto closer to clinching their first playoff berth in 22 years. The Blue Jays would clinch at least a wild-card spot if both the Twins and Angels lose Friday. Minnesota lost 6-4 at Detroit, but the Angels were still playing the Mariners when Toronto’s game ended.

"The wild card game is not something that we as a unit would celebrate," Dickey said. "We’re after the division championship."

Postgame videos

The Blue Jays haven’t been to the postseason since winning their second straight World Series in 1993.

Toronto extended its AL East to four games after the White Sox beat the Yankees.

The Blue Jays lead the majors with 217 homers, the fourth highest total in team history. They hit 257 homers in 2010.

"It’s no secret," Cash said. "We know that they have the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark."

Dickey (11-11), who came in winless in three starts, settled down after a shaky first. He retired 18 of the final 19 batters he faced, including the last 11 straight.

"It looked like it was dancing pretty good tonight," Cash said. "After the first inning, there weren’t too many hard-hit balls off him."

Dickey allowed four hits, walked none and struck out two to win for the eighth time in nine decisions.

"It’s been a tough year, losing my dad," said an emotional Dickey, whose father died in June. "This is really good to celebrate this, at home, in my 100th start for the Blue Jays. It’s really poetic."

Tampa Bay catcher J.P. Arencibia hit a leadoff homer off Mark Lowe in the eighth, and Roberto Osuna finished for his 18th save.

Donaldson became the ninth player in Blue Jays history to reach the 40-homer mark. He joins Carlos Delgado (2000) and Shawn Green (1999) as the only Toronto players to hit 40 home runs and 40 doubles in the same season.

"He’s had a huge year, an MVP year," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

Box score

Pillar put the Blue Jays on top when he connected off Odorizzi to begin the fourth. Pennington followed with his second double, went to third on a sacrifice and scored on Ben Revere’s single.

Bautista homered into the second deck off Kirby Yates to begin the seventh for his 37th.

THREE OF A KIND

The Rays allowed three or more home runs for the 19th time this season.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: LHP Jake McGee (left knee) is expected to come off the 15-day DL Saturday. McGee has been out since Aug. 18.

Blue Jays: Donaldson was the DH while Pennington started at 3B. … SS Troy Tulowitzki (broken left shoulder blade) took swings off a tee Thursday, then fielded grounders and played catch Friday. He’s due to hit off the tee again Saturday. "Feel like I’m moving a lot better," Tulowitzki said.

UP NEXT

Rays: RHP Chris Archer (12-12, 2.92 ERA) seeks to snap a four-start winless streak. He’s 3-1 with a 0.93 ERA in four starts against the Blue Jays this season.

Blue Jays: LHP David Price (17-5, 2.34 ERA) is 4-0 with a 1.38 ERA over his past four starts. He’ll face his former team for the first time since July 28 with Detroit, when he gave up five runs and seven hits in six innings, including two home runs by Rays C Curt Casali.