TORONTO — Another blast by Edwin Encarnacion helped make Mark Buehrle the first nine-game winner in baseball.
Buehrle won his season-best fifth consecutive decision, Encarnacion and Adam Lind hit back-to-back home runs and the Toronto Blue Jays extended their winning streak to eight games, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 9-6 on Tuesday night.
"Everybody’s having fun," Encarnacion said. "You can see it on their faces. We’re playing great baseball."
Juan Francisco also homered for the AL East-leading Blue Jays, who have won 13 of 15 and are 19-7 in May.
Buehrle said he’s grateful to have Encarnacion’s booming bat supporting him.
"He’s everything you could ask for," Buehrle said. "Offensively and defensively, he’s awesome."
Encarnacion connected for the 14th time in May, matching Jose Bautista’s team record for home runs in a month. Bautista hit 14 homers in June 2012.
"Eddie’s on some kind of roll right now," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Encarnacion has homered in three straight games for the third time this season.
The Blue Jays lead the majors with 76 home runs. They have gone deep in 10 consecutive games and 29 of their past 34, hitting 58 homers in that span.
Buehrle (9-1) allowed four runs, three earned, and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. The left-hander walked one and struck out three.
Casey Janssen finished for his eighth save in as many chances.
Sean Rodriguez had three RBI for the Rays, who lost their second in a row following a season-best four-game winning streak. Rays manager Joe Maddon said he’s just hoping to get out of Toronto without being swept.
"Taking one out of three right now sounds very enticing," Maddon said.
Lind and Encarnacion both connected off Rays right-hander Alex Cobb, who lost for the first time since April 1 and saw his streak of 24 2/3 scoreless innings snapped.
Cobb (1-2) allowed season-worsts of six runs and nine hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out seven.
The Rays gave Cobb the lead in the fourth on an RBI double by Rodriguez and an RBI grounder by Will Myers, but the right-hander couldn’t hold it. Brett Lawrie and Dioner Navarro hit two-out RBI singles in the bottom half to tie the game and snap Cobb’s scoreless streak. Cobb had not allowed an earned run since his first start, April 1 against Toronto.
Jose Reyes began the fifth with a line drive that struck Cobb on the right thigh, knocking him to the ground. Cobb appeared shaken up, but stayed in the game after a few warmup pitches.
"The first couple of warmup pitches the leg was still a little bit dead," Cobb said. "Honestly, by the third or fourth pitch, going back into game mode, it wasn’t a factor. It was something I felt was out of my mind."
Last June, Cobb was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer and wound up in hospital. Cobb didn’t return until mid-August.
Cobb said that incident "didn’t even cross my mind while I was out there."
Things unraveled quickly for Cobb after the scare. Reyes went to second on a grounder and scored on Bautista’s single. Lind hit an opposite field home run and, two pitches later, Encarnacion drilled a towering homer into the third deck, his 16th, tying him with Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz for most in the majors.
"He was carving us up pretty good early until he got hit," Gibbons said of Cobb.
Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth but Toronto added two more in the bottom half on an RBI single by Melky Cabrera and a bases-loaded balk by reliever Brad Boxberger.
The Rays chased Buehrle in the seventh when James Loney doubled and scored on Matt Joyce’s RBI grounder.
Francisco replied in the bottom half with a leadoff homer off Josh Lueke.
Rodriguez tripled home a run off Steve Delabar in the eighth and scored on Myers’ sacrifice fly.