MILWAUKEE — The Toronto Blue Jays are heading home with a sense of relief.
Outslugging one of the best teams in the National League can ease the sting of a 2-6 road trip.
Jose Bautista’s three-run homer capped a five-run sixth inning and Toronto snapped the Milwaukee Brewers’ five-game winning streak with a 9-5 victory Wednesday.
It’s time to start chipping away again in the AL East after falling a season-high nine games out of first entering the day.
"This has not been a good road trip for us, anybody will tell you that," starter R.A. Dickey said. "The home run by Jose was the difference and you could kind of hear a collective sigh on the bench."
Bautista hit a 1-2 pitch from reliever Brandon Kintzler into the Brewers’ bullpen in right field, scattering pitchers from their seats. The two-out homer made a winner of Dickey (10-12), who gave up five runs in 5 2/3 choppy innings.
"In reality, that’s baseball. You go through these stretches," manager John Gibbons. "It doesn’t take much just to miss a ball."
Dickey left after Carlos Gomez’s two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth made it 7-5. The bullpen held on from there, and Toronto got some extra cushion after Colby Rasmus hit a two-run homer, his 16th of the year, in the ninth.
The Blue Jays outhit the NL Central leaders 15-10.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke pointed back to the sixth as a turning point.
"So tough inning, you know we come back and Gomey gets the two points and we get a little closer, and we give up another homer. So we just didn’t pitch that well today," he said. "Offensively I thought it was really good day."
Rookie Jimmy Nelson (2-4) took the loss after allowing the first two runners to reach in the sixth. Facing a former Cy Young Award winner for the fourth straight start, Nelson gave up four runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Roenicke said he thought Nelson threw the ball well, and credited the table-setters in Toronto’s order, Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera, with hitting good pitches to get Nelson in trouble. Once again, the sinkerballer was doomed by one problematic inning.
"These are good hitters, and if you can’t put the ball where you want to — and we know he has good stuff — you still have to command the ball, and he’s going to continue to do better at that," Roenicke said.