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Blue Jays alone atop Wild Card after 4-homer rout

MLB.com

SEATTLE -- J.A. Happ became Toronto's first 20-game winner since 2008 on Tuesday night and delivered a blow to his former Mariners teammates' playoff chances in the process, while the Blue Jays smacked four home runs in a 10-2 runaway at Safeco Field.

Happ allowed two runs over five innings while striking out eight as he hiked his record to 20-4 with a 3.28 ERA, moving the Blue Jays into sole possession of the American League's top Wild Card spot, four games back of AL East-leading Boston at 83-68.

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SEATTLE -- J.A. Happ became Toronto's first 20-game winner since 2008 on Tuesday night and delivered a blow to his former Mariners teammates' playoff chances in the process, while the Blue Jays smacked four home runs in a 10-2 runaway at Safeco Field.

Happ allowed two runs over five innings while striking out eight as he hiked his record to 20-4 with a 3.28 ERA, moving the Blue Jays into sole possession of the American League's top Wild Card spot, four games back of AL East-leading Boston at 83-68.

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The 33-year-old southpaw was 4-6 with a 4.64 ERA In 21 starts for Seattle last year, but has gone 27-6 with a 2.91 ERA in 41 games since with the Pirates and Blue Jays.

"That's hard to do at the big league level, best baseball in the world and he has had some kind of season," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Happ's 20th win. "He's going to keep going strong, but it's quite the accomplishment."

Happ joins Blue Jays elite with 20th victory

Video: TOR@SEA: Happ fans eight, earns 20th win

Seattle is 9-4 over its last 13 games, but back-to-back losses to Toronto have dropped the Mariners four back of the Blue Jays and three back of Baltimore -- which lost to Boston, 5-2 -- for the second Wild Card spot with 11 games remaining.

Hisashi Iwakuma, who has been Seattle's most consistent starter this year, took a 2-0 lead into the fourth before getting rocked for six straight one-out hits and the Blue Jays' first six runs in an eight-run inning.

Michael Saunders, another former Mariner, and Russell Martin each had two-run blasts in the Blue Jays' breakout rally. Josh Donaldson added his 35th homer of the season in the sixth and Edwin Encarnacion launched his 42nd in the eighth. Iwakuma lasted just 3 1/3 innings as he fell to 16-12 with a 4.04 ERA.

"We scratched out a couple runs, got a big hit, finally got a lead and start getting some momentum going our way, and then unfortunately that shutdown inning was not existent," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Things got away from us there. It's disappointing, no doubt. We've got to try to regroup and we've got to get back to playing good baseball. We're just not playing good baseball."

Western Canada has invaded Seattle

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
They knee-d that: Robinson Cano has been struggling of late, but the Mariners' All-Star second baseman got a break when his hard-hit smash in the third deflected off the knee of Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis -- who was shifted into shallow right field -- and the ball rolled all the way to the outfield corner. Cano raced to third with a two-out, two-run triple to give Seattle its short-lived lead. It was Cano's first extra-base hit and first RBIs in his past seven games.

"You want to get a couple runs for your starter so he can feel more comfortable," Cano said. "But they took advantage of that fourth inning and scored eight runs. That's the Blue Jays. They have one of the best offenses in the game."

Video: TOR@SEA: Cano drives in two with a triple into right

Blue Jays build a snowman: Toronto entered this game having scored the fewest runs in the AL this month, but the offense the team is known for returned in the fourth inning. The Blue Jays pieced together seven consecutive hits for the first time since 2009 en route to an eight-run frame that saw 12 batters come to the plate. In addition to the homers by Martin and Saunders, Ezequiel Carrera and Travis had RBI singles while Encarnacion added a two-run double. It marked the third time this season that the Blue Jays scored eight or more runs in an inning.

"Getting down early is never fun, but to bounce back with eight runs in that one inning, we've been looking for that outbreak and we know that we have the guys in the locker room to do it and the capability of doing it," Saunders said. "We showed it all last year, and we've shown signs of it this year. We're looking to carry that momentum and hopefully finish strong here."

Saunders on other side of Toronto-Seattle rivalry

Video: TOR@SEA: Blue Jays plate eight runs on eight hits

Dropped pop: It seemed minor at the time, but Mariners catcher Chris Iannetta misplayed a foul popup by Bautista that would have been the second out of the fourth inning with the bases still empty for Iwakuma. Instead, Bautista singled and the Blue Jays proceeded to rip off their seven straight hits. Only one of the runs was unearned due to Iannetta's error, but it's fair to wonder how the inning might have played out had that catch been made.

"I took my eyes away and looked down to see where the stuff was in the on-deck circle because I knew I was getting close to that and I didn't want to step on that and not make the play," Iannetta said. " I just overran it a little bit and it got behind me."

Donaldson snaps skid: Donaldson's solo shot in the sixth was his first home run of the month and snapped his 0-for-13 skid. The ball was projected by Statcast™ to travel 384 feet and left his bat at 104 mph, which is good news for a guy who entered this game hitting .190 with four extra-base hits since his three-homer game on Aug. 28. He was one of many who enjoyed a breakout night at the plate.

"I always hold out hope for that. I've seen these guys too good for too long," Gibbons said. "I think it has been kind of refreshing coming here. The weather has cooled off. I think it has energized some guys a little bit, and then of course our fan turnout here has done something, too. It's a good way to do it."

Video: TOR@SEA: Donaldson hits a towering homer into left

QUOTABLE
"It's not going to be easy. And I don't think anyone three weeks ago thought this was going to be easy, and all of a sudden we made it interesting. Unfortunately we just didn't carry the momentum over here on the homestand. But we do have another game tomorrow. We need to get after it." -- Servais, on his team's dwindling chances

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With Martin's 20th homer on Tuesday, he and Saunders became the first Canadian-born teammates to each hit 20 or more in the same season.

Video: TOR@SEA: Martin hits two-run shot for 20th homer

Happ became the sixth Blue Jays pitcher in franchise history to win 20 games, joining Roy Halladay, Roger Clemens, Jack Morris, Pat Hentgen and David Wells.

Video: TOR@SEA: Happ forces Cruz to line out to left field

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
The Mariners successfully challenged an out call on Guillermo Heredia in the seventh inning when the left fielder attempted to advance to second on a pitch that bounced briefly away from Toronto catcher Martin. The call was overturned, and instead of the third out of the inning, Heredia was awarded second base, though he was stranded there when Cano struck out.

Video: TOR@SEA: Heredia swipes second after call overturned

WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: Right-hander Aaron Sanchez (13-2, 3.27 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays look to complete a three-game sweep over the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field. Sanchez had his last turn in the rotation skipped as the club continues to monitor his workload, so this will be his first time on the mound since Sept. 11. First pitch is scheduled for 3:40 p.m. ET.

Mariners: Felix Hernandez (11-6, 3,79 ERA) gets the ball for Wednesday's key 12:40 p.m. PT series finale as he looks to bounce back from a rough outing against the Astros in which he allowed eight hits and six runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings. The 30-year-old right-hander is 2-2 with a 6.46 ERA in five career starts against Toronto at Safeco FIeld.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.