Pillar hits tiebreaking HR, Jays hold on to beat Tigers 5-4
TORONTO (AP) — Kevin Pillar was feeling down after grounding into a triple play Friday night. His performance Saturday helped make up for it.
Pillar had four hits, including a tiebreaking home run, and made another sparkling defensive play in the outfield, Brett Anderson pitched six innings for his first victory with Toronto and the Blue Jays beat the Detroit Tigers 5-4 on Saturday.
Pillar broke a 2-all tie with a leadoff drive against Warwick Saupold (3-2) in the sixth, helping Toronto snap a three-game losing streak against Detroit.
The blast came one inning after Pillar jumped into the center field wall to snare a deep drive by Tigers infielder Dixon Machado.
“He’s obviously pretty special back there,” Anderson said of Pillar.
Besides his 15th homer, Pillar also had an RBI single in the first, an infield single in the fourth, and a single in the seventh. He has hit safely in 27 of his past 34 games and is batting .308 (41 for 133) in that stretch.
“He’s in a nice little groove, he’s driving some balls,” manager John Gibbons said.
The loss ensures the Tigers will not have a winning record for the second time in seven years.
Pillar said it was “maybe an all-time low” when he grounded into a triple play in the sixth inning Friday.
“A guy that can run a little bit, I never envisioned myself hitting into a triple play,” Pillar said.
Helping secure a victory for a Blue Jays team that had lost 15 of its previous 20 helped lift Pillar’s spirits.
“Wins have been hard to come by and playing a part in it is always nice,” he said.
Pillar’s was one of three fine plays in the outfield. Detroit left fielder Andrew Romine made a headlong diving catch on Luke Maile’s liner in the second, and Toronto’s Jose Bautista stranded a runner at third with a sliding, backhanded catch on Nicholas Castellanos’ sinking liner in the sixth.
Making his third start for the Blue Jays, Anderson (3-3) allowed two runs and five hits. The lefty walked none and struck out five.
“He moved the ball in and out,” Tigers DH John Hicks said of Anderson. “His curveball was pretty good, he threw that a lot. Whenever he got in trouble he used it pretty effectively.”
Carlos Ramirez and Dominic Leone each worked one inning and Ryan Tepera held on for his second save in four chances despite giving up two runs in the ninth. Tepera caught Romine looking on a 3-2 pitch to end it, stranding runners at first and third.
“I actually thought we were going to be snatching that one back from them,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said
Tepera got the call in the ninth because closer Roberto Osuna had a stiff neck. Osuna has not pitched since blowing a save against Boston on Tuesday, his 10th blown save this season.
Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera returned from suspension with a two-run homer off Anderson in the first, his 15th.
“Typical Miggy fashion,” Ausmus said.
Cabrera had sat out the previous six games for his role in a brawl-filled game against the New York Yankees on Aug. 24.
“That suspension could have lasted a day longer,” Anderson joked. “That wouldn’t have hurt my feelings.”
Toronto answered against Chad Bell in the bottom half on Pillar’s two-out RBI single, which came on the 10th pitch of his at bat.
“That was a good battle there,”Bell said. “I just didn’t execute the changeup. I just left it a little up.”
The Blue Jays tied it in the fourth when Kendrys Morales came home from third while teammate Teoscar Hernandez was involved in a rundown between first and second.
“I don’t think anybody expected Morales to go,” Ausmus said. “Credit the Blue Jays for a surprise attack.”
Making his second career start, Bell allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Cabrera’s homer was the 461st of his career, tying him with Adrian Beltre for 37th on the career list. The two RBIs give him 1,612, tying him with Goose Goslin for 32nd on the career list.
HOME SWEET HOME
Toronto avoided what would have been its first six-game home losing streak since July 19-24, 2013.
Tigers: OF Mikie Mahtook was scratched from the starting lineup because of a sore left groin. … Detroit reinstated SS Jose Iglesias from the paternity list.
Blue Jays: 3B Josh Donaldson (illness) missed his second straight game. … OF Steve Pearce (lower back) was unavailable. Pearce left Friday’s game after striking out in the first. … Gibbons said 2B Devon Travis (right knee) is not expected to return this season. Travis has been out since June 4.
Tigers: RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-3, 7.07) left his previous outing after just five pitches when he was struck on the right calf by a batted ball. He’s 0-2 with a 7.98 ERA in three career starts at Rogers Centre.
Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ (7-10, 3.85) snapped a three-start winless streak by beating Boston in his previous start, allowing three runs, one earned, in 5 2/3 innings.