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Kevin Pillar has solo homer, four hits to lead Blue Jays past Tigers


TORONTO — Kevin Pillar still had a triple play from the night before on his mind despite a strong performance at the plate on Saturday.

The Blue Jays centre-fielder had a solo homer and four hits to lead Toronto past the Detroit Tigers 5-4.

"In that moment, it was maybe an all-time low," said Pillar. "(I'm) a guy that can run a little bit, I never envisioned myself hitting into a triple play.

"You're going home, you had four at-bats, you make seven outs, that's a pretty rough day."

But a strong bounce back on Saturday from Pillar helped Toronto (65-77) end its three-game losing streak.

Along with his performance at the plate, Pillar also put on a show defensively in the fifth inning, robbing Dixon Machado of extra bases.

"Kevin's been on a nice little roll, been really swinging the bat well, and (made) the big play in centre field like he always does," said Toronto manager John Gibbons.

"He's driving some balls, (and he) played really well on that last road trip too."

Pillar's 15th homer of the season came off Tigers reliever Warwick Saupold (3-2) to give Toronto a 3-2 lead in the sixth.

Ryan Tepera earned his second save of the season for Toronto, but it wasn't easy. Nick Castellanos hit an RBI double in the ninth while James McCann had an RBI single as the Tigers cut the lead to 5-4. Tepera struck out Andrew Romine looking as the Tigers (60-81) stranded runners on first and third to end the game.

Gibbons said regular closer Roberto Osuna was unavailable for Saturday's tilt with a bad neck.

Blue Jays starter Brett Anderson (3-3) earned the victory after going six innings, giving up two runs, five hits and striking out five.

Tigers starter Chad Bell went 4 2/3 innings while allowing two runs, five hits and also struck out five.

After Pillar's homer in the sixth, the Blue Jays made it 4-2 as Luke Maile hit a two-out RBI single. Saupold was charged with both runs as the Tigers used three pitchers to get out of the inning.

Miguel Cabrera, who returned from a six-game suspension for a brawl against the New York Yankees, launched a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

"Getting six games off would allow the body to refresh itself, " said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. "In typical Miggy fashion, (his) first at-bat he hits a home run."

Cabrera's homer was his 15th of the season and 461st of his career, tying him with Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre for 37th on Major League Baseballs' all-time list.

The Jays responded in the bottom half of the inning as Pillar hit a two-out RBI single off Bell. The 28-year-old's other four-hit game of the year came against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 28. Richard Urena opened the inning with a walk but was erased after a fielder's choice by Jose Bautista. Three batters later, Pillar delivered with a hard-hit single up the middle, scoring Bautista.

Urena, who hit his first career homer on Friday, continued his momentum with two singles, a walk, and a slick double play turned in the fourth.

Kendrys Morales led off the fourth inning with his second walk of the game, and came around to score as the Jays tied the game at 2-2 after Teoscar Hernandez was caught trying to steal second base. Morales reached home before Hernandez was caught in a run-down to end the inning.

Bautista hit an RBI single in the eighth to extend Toronto's lead to 5-2. Bautista also made a back-handed sliding catch in the sixth to save a run.

Notes: Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson remained out of lineup with an illness. ... Tigers outfielder Mikie Mahtook was scratched before game with groin soreness. ... Attendance at Rogers Centre was 44,218.

Namish Modi, The Canadian Press

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