Smoak hits tiebreaking homer in 8th, Jays beat Rays 5-3

A sustained power surge from Josh Donaldson has put the Toronto Blue Jays back in the AL playoff picture.

With little production to speak of, meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays risk sliding right out of contention.

Justin Smoak hit a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning, Donaldson added two solo blasts and the Blue Jays beat the Rays 5-3 on Thursday, completing a 7-3 home stand.

"It's a breath of fresh air to be able to come to the yard expecting to win," Donaldson said.

The 2015 AL MVP, Donaldson has 11 home runs over his past 19 games and is batting .400 (20 for 50) with 21 RBIs in August. He homered four times in the four-game series, including a two-run shot in Monday's opener and a three-run blast Tuesday.

"Josh is on fire right now," manager John Gibbons said.

Smoak hit a two-run drive off Tommy Hunter (2-4), his 33rd, as the Blue Jays took three of four from the Rays to remain on the fringes of the AL wild card race. Toronto is 10-5 in August.

Smoak went 2 for 4 with three RBIs.

Donaldson connected twice against Rays right-hander Chris Archer, hitting solo shots in the first and fifth innings. It was his 13th career multihomer game and third this season. The homers were his 19th and 20th.

"I didn't execute a couple of pitches and he took advantage," Archer said. "We haven't seen a hitter that hot in a while."

The Rays stranded 14 and lost for the eighth time in their past 10.

"We're finding ways to lose tough ballgames right now," manager Kevin Cash said.

Tampa Bay dropped into a three-way tie for third in the AL East with Baltimore and Toronto. All three teams are three games behind in the race for the second wild card.

Offense is an issue for the Rays, who are batting .105 (8 for 76) with runners in scoring position over their past 13 games. The Rays went 5 for 37 (.135) in such situations against Toronto.

"Guys are frustrated," Rays slugger Evan Longoria said. "You come in after the game and it's quiet. Nobody is happy. The losses are definitely tough at this point of the year."

Dominic Leone (3-0) got the win despite surrendering Longoria's game-tying double off the center field wall in the top of the eighth.

"I thought it was a homer off the bat but we'll take anything at this point," Cash said of Longoria's hit.

Roberto Osuna wrapped it up for his 32nd save in 39 chances.

Archer allowed three runs in seven innings and is winless in three starts.

"We're getting really, really strong pitching performances and we're spoiling them," Cash said.

Blue Jays right-hander Chris Rowley, the first West Point graduate to play in the major leagues, allowed two runs in five-plus innings. Rowley beat Pittsburgh in his debut last Saturday.


Archer struck out Miguel Montero in the fourth to reach 1,000 for his career. The right-hander, who finished with 10 strikeouts, reached the mark in his 154th start.


Donaldson leads the AL with 10 first-inning home runs this season, one ahead of Houston's George Springer.


Donaldson entered 4 for 29 with no homers against Archer.


Toronto has won 12 of 17 at home.


Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (right big toe) threw a bullpen session at Tropicana Field on Wednesday. Cobb is set to throw off the mound again Friday and could return next week. ... OF Kevin Kiermaier (right hip) will play one more rehab game at Class-A Charlotte Thursday and could rejoin the team Friday.

Blue Jays: SS Ryan Goins was in the starting lineup one day after being spiked in the left forearm on an attempted steal of second base. ... OF Jose Bautista got the day off.


Rays: RHP Auston Pruitt (6-3, 5.07) starts the opener of a three-game home series against Seattle. Former Ray RHP Erasmo Ramirez (4-4, 4.73) starts for the Mariners. Pruitt pitched in relief in his only prior appearance against Seattle, replacing Ramirez in a June 4 loss.

Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ (6-8, 3.63) starts the opener of a three-game series at Wrigley Field against the Cubs. Happ is 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA in August. RHP Jake Arrieta (12-8, 3.73) starts for Chicago.


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