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Big home runs power Blue Jays in Happ's return

May 30, 2017

TORONTO -- The ball was flying out at Rogers Centre on Tuesday night and the Blue Jays took full advantage.Kendrys Morales hit the go-ahead homer in the bottom of the eighth inning as Toronto picked up a 6-4 victory over the Reds. Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Russell Martin also

TORONTO -- The ball was flying out at Rogers Centre on Tuesday night and the Blue Jays took full advantage.
Kendrys Morales hit the go-ahead homer in the bottom of the eighth inning as Toronto picked up a 6-4 victory over the Reds. Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Russell Martin also went deep for the Blue Jays, who have now won seven of their last eight games. Morales' two-run homer came off Reds right-hander Blake Wood on a 1-0 count and broke a 4-4 tie.

Left-hander J.A. Happ made his return from the disabled list for the Blue Jays but did not factor into the decision. He allowed two runs in the first inning but escaped a bases-loaded situation in the third and then retired the final four batters he faced. Happ was charged with the two runs on three hits and three walks in his first big league game since April 16.

"That's kind of who we are," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of the four home runs. "Our team is built that way. Especially in this ballpark, in this division, you slug it out. We're starting to get that good feeling again that when we fall behind a little bit, we can strike back quick."
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The Reds had a power surge of their own in the losing cause. Zack Cozart and Joey Votto each homered in the first inning off Happ and Cozart later added his second of the game with a solo homer off Blue Jays reliever Danny Barnes. It was the third multi-homer game of Cozart's career as he finished 2-for-3 with a pair of walks, two runs scored and two RBIs. 

"Today we came out, we took the lead, and we got to our power with Cozart hitting two homers, Joey [Votto] hitting one," said Reds manager Bryan Price after the game. "We hit some balls on the screws. We had Happ in some tough spots and he was able to kind of manage his way out of it without giving up the big blow."
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Cincinnati right-hander Asher Wojciechowski did not factor into the decision. All of the runs he allowed were in the fourth inning and came via the long ball as well. Wojciechowski was charged with the four runs on four hits with three strikeouts and he did not walk a batter. More >

"My job was to go deep into the game," Wojciechowski said. "I didn't do that today. Lorenzen did a great job of picking up my innings, but it was definitely frustrating."
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Three's company:  The first three of Toronto's home runs came off Wojciechowski during the four-run fourth inning. Donaldson got things started with a two-run shot that went into the fifth deck behind the left-field wall. Bautista followed with a solo homer, and two batters later, Martin added a solo shot of his own. It was the third time this season that the Blue Jays hit back-to-back homers and three home runs in one inning were tied for the second most in franchise history. According to Statcast™, Donaldson's homer was projected to travel 435 feet, Bautista's 431 feet and Martin's 415 feet.
"It felt good," Donaldson said. "I've been putting in a lot of work. A lot of time. [Troy] Tulowitzki and I stayed here until probably 12:30, 1 o'clock (in the morning), working on some things. Today it paid off. It showed up a little bit." More >
The catch: Cincinnati entered the top of the seventh trailing by one but with one run already in, runners on first and second and nobody out, the Reds were threatening to do even more. The momentum started to change when Billy Hamilton attempted to steal third base but was promptly thrown out by Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin. Votto followed with a walk as the Reds once again put two runners on. Adam Duvall then hit a sinking line drive into the gap in left-center field that appeared destined for extra bases until Ezequiel Carrera made a head-first diving grab to save at least one run. Dennis Tepera then struck out Eugenio Suarez to end the threat.

"Just like hitting a home run, or getting a base hit with men in scoring position ... you can build that momentum on the defensive side of the ball as well," Donaldson said. "Those types of plays that Zeke made today, Russ made a great throw to third, Tulo earlier in the game … making those plays allow the offense to gain some momentum."
"It was a battle. I expected that, the first time getting back out there. I settled down after those couple of runs in the first and got out of a couple jams. I'll get better with command. That's going to come, I think, but physically I felt good." -- Happ, on his first outing since being activated from the 10-day DL with inflammation in his left elbow
"The thing that stood out to me even more than the home runs were the plays by Tulowitzki, Smoak, and Carrera, because those three plays are all run-scoring plays for us if those balls get down.". -- Price, on the Blue Jays defense
Donaldson became the ninth different Blue Jays player to homer into the fifth deck at Rogers Centre. Edwin Encarnacion had been the last one to do it with his homer on April 21, 2015. Including opponents, there have been 20 home runs that reached the fifth deck dating back to when the stadium first opened in 1989.
Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis went 0-for-3 as his 13-game hitting streak was snapped. That was the longest hitting streak by a Toronto player this season.
Reds:Tim Adleman (3-2, 4.95 ERA) will close out the series for Cincinnati coming off his best start of the season. Against the Phillies on May 26, the right-hander threw eight shutout innings and allowed just one hit.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Mike Bolsinger (0-2, 5.75) will get the start for Toronto when this series against the Reds wraps up on Wednesday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 12:37 p.m. ET. This likely will be Bolsinger's final start for the Blue Jays with left-hander Francisco Liriano expected to return from the disabled list later this week.
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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.Keegan Matheson is a reporter for based in Toronto.