PHILADELPHIA — Josh Donaldson has turned the two-hole into a slugger’s spot in the lineup.
Donaldson hit two homers, Edwin Encarnacion also went deep and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Philadelphia Phillies 8-5 Tuesday night.
The American League wild card-leading Blue Jays have won 13 of 15. They remained one game behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees.
Donaldson has 33 homers and leads the majors with 91 RBIs while batting in a spot once reserved for slap hitters and guys who played small-ball.
”I’m in a position in the lineup where I need to come through, and fortunately I’ve been able to do that,” Donaldson said. ”Every time I come up I expect to not only have a good at-bat, but to help my team win.”
The Phillies, who have the worst record in the majors, have lost four straight and five of six after winning 16 of 21 following the All-Star break.
Donaldson hit a drive off Aaron Nola into the second deck in left field in the first. His three-run shot in the sixth off Jeanmar Gomez (1-3) gave the Blue Jays a 7-5 lead. A loud group of Jays fans chanted ”MVP” as he rounded the bases.
”He’s such a gamer and he may perpetually be in the zone,” Toronto starter R.A. Dickey said. ”It’s been special to watch him have a big year.”
Jeff Francoeur hit a solo homer for Philadelphia.
Dickey allowed five runs and nine hits in four-plus innings, becoming the first Jays starter to give up more than three earned runs in 21 games. Liam Hendricks (4-0) pitched out of a jam in the fifth to earn the win. Roberto Osuna pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 15 chances.
”I didn’t have a good (knuckleball),” Dickey said. ”I was fighting it all night.”
Nola gave up three runs and four hits in five innings. He left with a 5-3 lead.
”They’re really hot right now,” Nola said. ”They’re swinging the bats well.”
The Jays started their rally off Elvis Araujo. Chris Colabello’s RBI single cut it to 5-4. Donaldson’s shot off Gomez on a 3-0 pitch made it 7-5 and Encarnacion connected for an 8-5 lead.
”He’s had some kind of year,” Jays manager John Gibbons said of Donaldson.
The Phillies took a 4-3 lead on Freddy Galvis’ RBI triple in the fourth. Cody Asche’s RBI single had tied it.
Dickey left after the Phillies loaded the bases on three straight hits, including two infield singles to first base. Hendricks entered and retired Francoeur on a double-play grounder that scored a run.
Ezequiel Carrera gave the Blue Jays a 3-1 lead on a two-run single with two outs in the third after Nola walked the bases loaded.
Cesar Hernandez hit an RBI single with two outs in the bottom half to cut it to 3-2.
Six-time All-Star 2B Chase Utley isn’t so eager to play for a contender. Utley has cleared waivers, but would have to waive his no-trade rights to accept a move.
”I don’t think that Chase has that desire to leave, frankly,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
FOUR IS ENOUGH
The Blue Jays are going with a four-man starting rotation during their 10-game road trip because of two off days. RHP Drew Hutchison was sent to Triple-A on Monday and Carrera was called up to take his roster spot. Hutchison is scheduled to return to start on Aug. 29.
Phillies: Rookie 3B Maikel Franco was placed on the 15-day DL because of a broken left wrist. Franco was hit on the wrist last Tuesday at Arizona. He missed the next four games.
Blue Jays: LHP Mark Buehrle (13-5, 3.31) tries to win his fifth straight decision. He’s 6-2 with a 3.50 ERA in nine career starts vs. Philadelphia.
Phillies: LHP Adam Morgan (3-4, 4.11) faces the Blue Jays for the second time. He allowed two runs in six innings in a 3-2 against them on July 28.