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Toronto Blue Jays' J.P. Arencibia, right, is congratulated by teammate Travis Snider after hitting a two-run home run against Tampa Bay at the Rogers Centre on Saturday. The rookie catcher wound up four-for-five in his debut. ((Nathan Denette/Canadian Press) )

With a nod to late folk musician John Stewart, it was Bombs Away Dream Babies for the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at the Rogers Centre shooting gallery.

The Jays hit eight home runs to blast the Tampa Bay Rays 17-11 and take two straight from the American League East contenders. It was only two back of the franchise record of 10, hit on Sept. 14, 1987.

Rookie Jonathan Paul (J.P.) Arencibia, 24 years old and with his mom in the stands, went four-for-five, hit a home run off the first major league pitch he ever saw, added another later and also contributed a single and double.

"J.P. had a heck of day, one that he can go back and tell his grandkids about," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "I don't know if anyone would believe it, though."

Aaron Hill went three-for-five and had round trippers in consecutive at-bats, while Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, Lyle Overbay and Jose Bautista, with his major league-leading 34th of the season, also hit the long ball for the Jays.

Toronto (58-52) has 175 home runs in 2010, also best anywhere.

Mills didn't share in fun

Brad Mills made his second start of the year, and fourth of his career, for the Jays but was wild all day, walking four, hitting another and leaving the bases loaded and none out in the fifth for Brian Tallet, still up 8-3.

The reliever got three straight outs, as two more runs came across and the Jays went to the bottom of the inning up 8-5.

Tallet threw a strong three innings, allowing only a two-run mistake to Dan Johnson that cleared the right field fence in the seventh to cloud his outing.

Tampa's normally reliable James Shields (10-10) was gone after four, allowing eight runs on nine hits, a half-dozen of them homers.

"Disgusting is pretty much what it was," Shields said.

In came Dale Thayer, who made 11 appearances last season but was making his 2010 debut. And a nightmare it was, too, thanks to six hits, including two that never made it out of the infield, and another five runs for a 13-5 Toronto leader after five.

The Jays cruised home from there.

Early lead for Jays

Toronto opened the scoring in the first when Encarnacion doubled home Travis Snider's walk for a 1-0 lead.

An inning later up came Arencibia for his historic at-bat and he took a fast ball over the left field wall to make it 3-0.

"I couldn't have dreamed of it any better," Arencibia said. "I knew [my mom] was there, and that was huge for me. It's just been a really special day that I could have never pictured like this."

Tampa (67-43 and losers of five straight) got to Brad Mills for the first time in the third when, with one out, B.J. Upton doubled to the left-centre gap, bringing home Jason Bartlett, and then a single by Dan Johnson plated Upton for a 3-2 score.

Were the Jays undeterred? You bet.

Fourth inning. Lind. Gone. Next batter, Hill. Gone. That was the ninth time Toronto had gone back-to-back this season and it was quickly 5-2.

One out later, up came Encarnacion. Gone. 6-2 Jays.

Move along to the fourth. Jose Bautista. Over the left-field wall for his 34th of the season, continuing to lead the majors. Then Hill again. Gone. Eighteenth of the year, now two on the day.

By this time, everyone was looking over at Tampa manager Joe Maddon to see when some action might begin in the Rays bullpen. He, too, seemed undeterred but he relented and sent out Thayer to start the fifth.

Toronto's final two homers were a line shot to right by Arencibia in the sixth and a three-run bomb to the same spot by Overbay in the seventh.

"It's really not this easy, that's what I was thinking," Overbay said of his catcher's first game.

Jason Frasor in a strong eighth, David Purcey and Casey Janssen in a sloppy, four-run ninth, finished off on the mound for the Jays.

with files from the Canadian Press