Kevin Pillar lifts Blue Jays past Rays as Toronto avoids series sweep
Manager John Gibbons is ejected for 3rd time in 5 days
Toronto's record against Tampa Bay since 2008 is its poorest against any AL team. The Blue Jays last year won the season series for only the second time in a decade.
After losses in the first two games of the weekend series, the Blue Jays felt pressure to produce a turnaround.
"We kind of saw this game as a game we really needed to win, to wrap up our road trip being successful," Pillar said after scoring the tiebreaking run on Alex Colome's wild pitch in the ninth to help lift the Blue Jays over the Rays 2-1 Sunday.
Toronto stopped a three-game losing streak.
"We know every time we come in this place they play us tough," Pillar said. "The way we won it today is something to build on."
Losing skid ends
Pillar doubled off Colome (2-4) leading off the ninth, advanced on Kendrys Morales' grounder and came home without a throw when Colome bounced a pitch off the mitt of catcher Wilson Ramos.
It was Toronto's first win since the 11-inning opener of a doubleheader at Cleveland on Thursday.
"The last two games we weren't quite all there, and I think it's due to those long two games in Cleveland," Toronto pitcher Marco Estrada said.
Blue Jays shortstop Aledmys Diaz was carted off the field in the fifth inning after spraining his left ankle. Diaz wore a boot after the game.
Toronto manager John Gibbons was ejected for the third time in five days after Ryan Tepera was called for a balk by plate umpire Jeremie Rehak in the eighth.
"I just wanted an explanation," Gibbons said. "Nobody calls balks anymore, not at that time of a close game. Don't give away the game, that's my beef. If everybody does it all the time, I get it."
Better start for Estrada
Rookie Anthony Alford singled leading off the fifth, stole a base for the first time in the major leagues, advanced on Luke Maile's flyout and scored on Diaz's infield single to first baseman Brad Miller. Diaz hit the side of the base while trying to avoid a collision with pitcher Chris Archer, who was covering.
Tepera (2-1) failed to protect an eighth-inning lead, allowing a home run to Carlos Gomez leading off the inning. Gomez was 3 for 4 with his fifth home run this season, raising his average from .181 to .200.
Roberto Osuna allowed Daniel Robinson's one-out single in the ninth, then got Mallex Smith to ground into a forceout and retired Gomez on a groundout. Osuna has nine saves in 10 chances.
Estrada gave up four hits and three walks in six innings, lowering his ERA from 6.19 to 5.21. Estrada had allowed 18 runs in his four previous starts.
Archer yielded one run and five hits in a season-high seven innings.
Ramos had two hits, extending his hitting streak to 14 games.