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Happ right at home en route to dominant win

Blue Jays put together complete effort for first series win since May 2
Special to MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- J.A. Happ isn't quite sure why, but he always comes through when he faces his former team.

Happ bested the Phillies again Sunday afternoon as the Blue Jays captured a three-game series with a 5-3 win at Citizens Bank Park. Happ pitched through some trouble in the sixth inning, but never relinquished the lead. The victory marked the Blue Jays' first series win since taking two of three against the Twins on April 30-May 2. Happ is now 5-0 with a 1.45 ERA in five starts against the Phillies, the team he debuted with in 2007. Happ made 47 career appearances with the Phillies and won the 2008 World Series with the team.

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PHILADELPHIA -- J.A. Happ isn't quite sure why, but he always comes through when he faces his former team.

Happ bested the Phillies again Sunday afternoon as the Blue Jays captured a three-game series with a 5-3 win at Citizens Bank Park. Happ pitched through some trouble in the sixth inning, but never relinquished the lead. The victory marked the Blue Jays' first series win since taking two of three against the Twins on April 30-May 2. Happ is now 5-0 with a 1.45 ERA in five starts against the Phillies, the team he debuted with in 2007. Happ made 47 career appearances with the Phillies and won the 2008 World Series with the team.

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"I certainly like to pitch well coming back there, but I don't specifically know why [those numbers are so good]," Happ said after his 30th career appearance in Philadelphia. The veteran left-hander cruised through the first five innings, allowing just two hits and striking out seven. But the Phillies started finding some holes in the sixth inning, and the Blue Jays defense wasn't crisp behind him.

The Phillies plated three runs in the sixth thanks to four consecutive singles and a pair of Blue Jays errors. Happ stayed in the game, though, and retired the last four batters he faced.

"Trying to limit damage, limit the [slugging percentage], limit doubles, triples and home runs. I feel like I was able to do that," Happ said. "I felt like it was still my game, and I was happy to go back out there."

Happ finished with eight strikeouts and punched out Cesar Hernandez on his 100th pitch of the game before he was pulled with two outs in the seventh. Happ has been the most reliable part of Toronto's rotation in 2018. His win against the Phillies was his third in three starts, and the Blue Jays are 8-3 when he takes the mound.

Video: TOR@PHI: Happ strikes out Hernandez in the 7th

"He can pitch, that's the bottom line," manager John Gibbons said of Happ, who has a 1.74 ERA in his last three starts. "He's a big, strong guy. He can maintain it. No telling where we're at without him."

Happ's outing was the third straight quality start from a Blue Jays pitcher. He was backed by a pair of two-run doubles from Devon Travis and Dwight Smith Jr. Curtis Granderson gave the Blue Jays a ninth inning insurance run with a solo homer off Hector Neris.

Video: TOR@PHI: Smith Jr. extends the lead to 4-0 in the 6th

Happ, 35, is in the final season of a three-year contract, and there is already some speculation that the Blue Jays could move him if they fall further out of the playoff race. The Phillies, who do not have a left-handed starter in their rotation, could be a potential landing spot for Happ.

"I know that stuff is going to happen and those rumors will be out there at some point, potentially," Happ said. "But I don't pitch with that stuff on my mind."

Video: TOR@PHI: Granderson scorches a solo home run to right

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Travis starts the scoring: Travis made the most of his only start in the series Sunday. He lined a double to the left-center-field gap off Phillies starter Nick Pivetta in his first at-bat to drive in the only two runs off the right-hander. He also singled in the fifth for his first multi-hit game since being recalled on May 22.

Video: TOR@PHI: Travis opens scoring with a 2-run double

"Please get down, that's probably the only thing going through my head after I hit it," Travis said of the double. "It's a good feeling for sure."

Donaldson's error starts a rally: Josh Donaldson made his second error at third base of the season in the sixth inning. He tried to throw out Carlos Santana after making a barehanded play on a softly hit grounder, but the throw sailed wide of first. Santana was credited with a single on the play and he advanced to second as Maikel Franco got to third. Kevin Pillar made an error on the next play, allowing Santana to score on Aaron Altherr's single.

Video: TOR@PHI: Santana singles, advances to second on error

"In the three-run rally, the swinging bunt [by Santana] really opened things up. That's baseball sometimes," Gibbons said.

HE SAID IT
"We know how good he is. I don't think the baseball world probably appreciates him as much as they should." -- Gibbons, on Happ

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays start a three-game series at Fenway Park on Monday afternoon against the Red Sox. Right-hander Aaron Sanchez will get the start in the 1:05 p.m. ET opener. Sanchez worked around five walks to toss five scoreless innings against the Angels in his last outing. Left-hander David Price will start for Boston.

Stephen Pianovich is a contributor to MLB.com based in Philadelphia.

Toronto Blue Jays, J.A. Happ