TORONTO (AP) While Jonny Gomes is waiting for a pinch-hitting opportunity, he’s never going to be forgotten about. He moves too much and makes too much noise to ever be overlooked.
Gomes had a pinch-hit, tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning, Freddie Freeman added a two-run shot and the Atlanta Braves beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-7 on Friday night
Freeman said Gomes is hard to ignore in the Atlanta dugout.
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”He’s always in your way because he’s never sitting down,” Freeman said. ”He’s awesome. He’s always screaming in the dugout, he’s always keeping us loose, keeping us fired up.”
He’s always ready to hit, too.
Batting for Cameron Maybin, Gomes opened the eighth with a drive to center off Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil (0-1). It was Gomes’ 10th career pinch-hit homer, the most among active players.
”I’ve been watching him do that for years now,” Atlanta’s Nick Markakis said of Gomes. ”He’s pretty damn good at it. It takes a lot of focus and work to be able to come in and pinch hit.”
Gomes is 6 for 9 with two home runs against Cecil.
”You get an opportunity to get the matchup that I want in that situation and we used it, we took advantage of it,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Markakis went 4 for 4 and scored three runs as the Braves won for the third time in their last 11 interleague road games.
”It’s nice to see some of the guys start to start to swing the bat a little bit and get hot,” Gonzalez said.
Two outs after Gomes’ homer, Markakis singled and Freeman followed with a second-deck drive, his third.
Cody Martin (1-0) worked one inning for the win, Jim Johnson gave up two runs in the eighth and Jason Grilli finished for his fifth save.
Toronto hit five home runs, including four off Braves starter Julio Teheran, but still lost for the fourth time in five games. Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin both hit two homers, while rookie Devon Travis also connected.
Making his first start in the leadoff spot in place of the injured Jose Reyes, Travis put the Blue Jays on top with a homer in the first, his third. Travis is the first Blue Jays rookie to hit a leadoff homer since Russ Adams did it against the Yankees on Aug. 22, 2004.
Atlanta tied it in the second on Eric Young’s two-out single, then took the lead on A.J. Pierzynski’s RBI single in the third.
Martin tied it in the bottom half with his first homer of the season, snapping an 0 for 22 slump. He went deep again to begin the eighth, giving him his ninth career multihomer game. The homers were Martin’s second and third hits of the season, boosting his average from .042 to .111.
”It’s definitely encouraging but it’s not really satisfying when you don’t end up winning the game,” Martin said.
Donaldson hit a two-run homer in the third, his first for Toronto, to put the Blue Jays up 4-2, but Atlanta reclaimed the lead with a two-out rally in the fifth. Andrelton Simmons chased Drew Hutchison with a two-run double and Jace Peterson greeted Roberto Osuna with a tiebreaking triple.
Donaldson connected again in the bottom of the fifth to tie it 5-all. It was the fourth multihomer game of his career.
Blue Jays pitchers have allowed pinch-hit home runs in back-to-back games after not allowing one in their previous 279 games. Tampa Bay rookie Tim Beckham hit a pinch-hit homer off Aaron Loup in Thursday’s Rays win. Before that, the last pinch-hitter to go deep against Toronto was Atlanta’s Reed Johnson on May 30, 2013.
IN THE BAG
In the third, a fan seated behind first base caught a foul ball off the bat of Atlanta’s Chris Johnson in his bag of snacks. He reached into the bag and pulled out the ball to cheers from nearby fans.
Blue Jays: Reyes has a cracked rib on his left side and will miss this weekend’s series against Atlanta. Reyes won’t play again until at least Tuesday against Baltimore. Toronto is off Monday.
Braves LH Alex Wood (1-0) faces Blue Jays RH R.A. Dickey (0-1) on Saturday afternoon. Dickey issued five walks in his previous start, the most he’d allowed since April 17, 2014, at Minnesota.