ATLANTA -- It's been a rocky first half for Marcus Stroman, but the Blue Jays' right-hander ended it on a high note as he turned in his strongest outing of the season on Tuesday, and Toronto's lineup came through with a five-run eighth inning against the Braves' bullpen en route
ATLANTA -- It's been a rocky first half for Marcus Stroman, but the Blue Jays' right-hander ended it on a high note as he turned in his strongest outing of the season on Tuesday, and Toronto's lineup came through with a five-run eighth inning against the Braves' bullpen en route to a 6-2 win over Atlanta at SunTrust Park.
Russell Martin, who went 0-for-3 against Braves starter Julio Teheran, delivered the go-ahead run on a base hit to left off of A.J. Minter, one of two lefties to pitch out of Atlanta's bullpen.
"We had our three hits early, and we didn't get much after that until the end with some big, good clutch hitting," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Stroman, who went 1-for-3 at the plate, was locked in a pitchers' duel with Braves righty Julio Teheran, allowing one run on six hits with five strikeouts and two walks as he matched a season-high seven innings. Of the 21 outs he recorded, 14 were on weak ground balls.
He was consistently effective mixing his cutter and sinker on a night in which he made his 100th career start. The outing was his last of a first half that was curtailed by a shoulder injury that landed him on the disabled list. Stroman's strong outing lowered his ERA from 6.50 to 5.90.
"The cutter felt great today," Stroman said. "When I'm pairing the cutter and the sinker, it makes it pretty hard on hitters as far as when I'm throwing that pitch, and it gives myself a lot more room to miss with my sinker."
Stroman said on any given day he could rely most on his cutter, curveball or slider, and he will utilize whichever two-pitch combination feels best to him at the time.
"The more I throw it, the better it gets and when I start to hit on it, that's a safe pitch for me," he said. "I feel like when I throw that in to a lefty, I feel like that's either gonna be weak contact or pulled foul for a strike."
Toronto took a 1-0 lead in the third on Justin Smoak's solo homer to center, his 13th blast of the season and fourth in his last 10 games. The Braves would tie it up in the sixth after Ozzie Albies' perfectly placed bunt single and steal of second base put him in scoring position for Kurt Suzuki's RBI single to left three batters later. But Stroman pitched out of the jam with a strikeout of Johan Camargo to keep the game tied.
With Minter in to pitch the top of the eighth, the Blue Jays were gifted scoring opportunities thanks to a pair of errors by the Braves' infield with no outs. Shortstop Dansby Swanson booted a routine ground ball hit by Yangervis Solarte. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. pinch-ran for Solarte and advanced to second when a pickoff throw got past Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Atlanta's defensive miscues proved costly as Martin's RBI single started a hit parade that continued with RBI knocks from Kevin Pillar, Aledmys Diaz and Devon Travis to extend Toronto's lead to 6-1.
"We just kind of streaked some hits together there," Martin said. "A guy throwing hard -- hard cutter, hard fastball -- just try to get the barrel out. And I found a hole. So that kind of got us going, and we just kind of kept putting good swings on the baseball. That's kind of how we score our runs, though. We're pretty streaky. We're always looking for that one big inning, and that's kind of how we've played this year."
The Braves scratched across a run in the eighth, but Tyler Clippard set the Braves down in order in the bottom of the ninth.
Toronto's five-run eighth marked the 10th time this season that the Blue Jays have plated five or more runs in an inning. Five of those big innings have come in the seventh inning or later. It was the third time in July that they accomplished that feat, with a five-run second inning on Friday and another five-run inning in the seventh on July 3.
Sam Gaviglio (2-2, 3.81 ERA) will get the start for the Blue Jays in Wednesday's 7:35 p.m. ET series finale. The righty hasn't won a game since May 25, but Toronto has won his last four starts. All-Star Mike Foltynewicz (6-5, 2.37) will start for the Braves.
Aimee Sachs is a contributor to MLB.com based in Atlanta.