Bautista’s big hit helps Blue Jays beat Cubs 9-2
TORONTO — Jose Bautista extended his hitting streak to 13 games with another key swing for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Bautista hit a go-ahead, three-run double in the seventh inning, and Toronto rallied to beat the Chicago Cubs 9-2 on Tuesday night.
“Jose has been one of the best hitters in baseball over the last few years,” manager John Gibbons said. “He’s got the knack of doing something big when it counts, when we need something.”
Bautista’s hitting streak matches a career best. He also hit in 13 straight from April 19 to May 3.
“He’s clutch,” teammate Mark Buehrle said. “He’s been that way for years. He showed it tonight.”
Buehrle (12-9) allowed two runs and 10 hits in seven innings to stop a six-start winless streak, helping the Blue Jays improve to 6-2 in September.
Aaron Sanchez pitched the eighth and Daniel Norris finished for Toronto, which came in five games out in the AL wild-card race.
The Cubs lost their fifth straight game and dropped to 64-81, putting them one defeat away from a fifth consecutive losing season.
“It’s been a tough five-game stretch,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Today we lost one that really got ugly.”
Renteria called a team meeting afterward to address what he called “probably the worst game we’ve played all year.”
“No one likes losing, but no one likes losing the way that game ended up,” he said. “It just steamrolled. It would be foolish for us to ignore it, say it didn’t happen.”
After Kevin Pillar’s one-out single off Jake Arrieta in the seventh, Neil Ramirez (2-2) came on to face pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus, who singled. Pinch-hitter Munenori Kawasaki walked to load the bases before Ramirez fanned Jose Reyes. Bautista worked the count full before clearing the bases with a double into the left-field corner.
Bautista said Ramirez was “cornered” once the count got to 3-2.
“He had to make a decision whether to challenge me or try to go with an off-speed pitch,” Bautista said. “I just placed my bet that he was going to challenge me. He did throw a fastball in the zone and I was able to connect.”
Toronto pulled away with a five-run eighth against Brian Schlitter and Blake Parker.
Chicago’s Javier Baez doubled and scored on Jorge Soler’s sacrifice fly in the first, and the Cubs made it 2-0 in the fifth on Welington Castillo’s third hit of the game.
Toronto cut the deficit in half in the bottom half when Ryan Goins doubled, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out bloop single by Reyes. An errant pickoff throw by Arrieta sent Reyes to third, but Bautista flied out.
CLOSER TO 200
Buehrle inched closer to extending his 13-year streak of pitching at least 200 innings, boosting his 2014 total to 182 with three starts remaining. Gibbons has indicated he would consider using Buehrle out of the bullpen following his final scheduled start to help him reach the milestone for a 14th time.
CRIME DOESN’T PAY
Castillo threw out Pillar trying to steal second in the fifth, the 10th runner he’s thrown out in 12 attempts since Aug. 12, and his 23rd of the season. Cubs catchers have thrown out six of the past seven runners trying to steal.
PILLAR PILING UP HITS
Pillar went 3 for 4 with three singles for his third straight multihit game. Pillar is 7 for 12 in that stretch, boosting his average from .221 to .275.
Cubs: Renteria said 1B Anthony Rizzo (back) felt fine after taking grounders and hitting in the cage Monday, allowing him to repeat the activities Tuesday. Renteria cautioned, however, that Rizzo is still dealing with “limited parameters.”
Blue Jays: Edwin Encarnacion was originally in the lineup at 1B but switched to DH, with Adam Lind taking his place in the field. Encarnacion has been limited since returning from a strained right quadriceps muscle last month.
Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (6-1) faces RHP Drew Hutchison (9-11) in Wednesday’s series finale. Hendricks went 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in August, winning the NL Rookie of the Month award, and then opened September by beating Milwaukee.
*Photo courtesy of AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn