PITTSBURGH (AP) — Bo Bichette hit a tiebreaking three-run double in the seventh inning to lift the Toronto Blue Jays to a 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night.
The Blue Jays won for the fourth time in five games and maintained their lead for the third and final wild card in the American League. Toronto drew within six games of the division-leading New York Yankees in the AL East race.
George Springer and Bichette each had two hits for the Blue Jays, who can sweep the three-game series Sunday.
With the score tied 1-1, the Blue Jays loaded the bases against Duane Underwood Jr. (1-4) in the seventh on a single by Springer and walks to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Matt Chapman. Bichette then doubled to left field with two outs on the 10th pitch of the at-bat.
“Just never give in,” Bichette said of his approach to a lengthy plate appearance. “Don’t let him speed me up. Just trust my ability, trust in who I am.”
Underwood threw 37 pitches in the inning before being lifted after Bichette’s hit.
Bichette is hitting .362 in his last 12 games.
“If you look at the battle by Bo, the approach with two strikes and fouling balls off and getting his pitch to hit, it’s just a testament to the competitor he is,” Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider said. “He’s really, really good right now. “We’re talking about an elite hitter with bat-to-ball skills that not many people have.”
Pirates rookie Oneil Cruz opened the scoring with a run-scoring triple to the right-center field gap in third inning. The Blue Jays tied it an inning later when Raimel Tapia’s groundout scored Bichette, who led off with a single.
Yimi Garcia (4-4) got the win as the third of seven Blue Jays’ pitchers in a bullpen game. Garcia retired all four batters he faced.
Jordan Romano pitched a perfect ninth for his 29th save.
Trevor Richards made his first start since 2020 and pitched two scoreless innings. He gave up one hit and had three strikeouts.
“Awesome job by them,” Schneider said.
Pirates rookie Roansy Contreras allowed only one run in six innings but did not factor in the decision. He lowered his 2.63 ERA in four starts since being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Aug. 17 as he gave up four hits, struck out five and walked two.
Contreras spent five weeks in the minor leagues, ostensibly so the Pirates could manage his innings pitched for the season.
“He’s done a really good job of executing and using his pitches,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. He used all three of them again tonight. He was extremely effective. That’s a good lineup. They make you grind.”
Cruz had two hits for Pittsburgh, which lost for the 11th time in their last 13 games.
PIRATES’ HALL OF FAME
The Pirates inducted 19 members as part of the inaugural class for the team’s Hall of Fame prior to the game.
Of the 19, 16 had already been enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. The three living members of the class attended the ceremony: Steve Blass, Bill Mazeroski and Dave Parker.
The Pirates also inducted Negro League stars Ray Brown, Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard. They played for either the Pittsburgh Crawfords or Homestead Grays.
Blue Jays: 2B Santiago Espinal left the game in the eighth inning after being hit on the left hand by a pitch from Robert Stephenson but X-rays were negative. He will be reevaluated Sunday. … LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (left wrist soreness) returned to the lineup after missing Friday’s game and went 1 for 4 with a double.
Pirates: 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes (left shoulder discomfort) was out of the lineup after being removed from Friday’s game. … LF Ben Gamel (left foot soreness) missed his second straight game.
Blue Jays: RHP Ross Stripling (6-4, 2.94) starts Sunday in the finale of the three-game series and is 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA since missing 16 days with a strained right hip.
Pirates: RHP JT Brubaker (3-11, 4.39) will be pitching for the first time since Aug. 23 after spending time on the paternity list for the birth of a son named Jed.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports