MLB

Blue Jays maintain wild-card spot with victory over Rays

Rookie Alek Manoah rebounded from early control issues to last six innings and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Tuesday night to improve to a major league-best 16-4 in September.

Win comes day after Rays' Kiermaier scooped Blue Jays' data card at the plate

Toronto's Lourdes Gurriel Jr., left, celebrates with Corey Dickerson after his fifth-inning home run during the Blue Jays' 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday. (Chris O'Meara/AP Photo)

Rookie Alek Manoah rebounded from early control issues to last six innings and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Tuesday night to improve to a major league-best 16-4 in September.

Toronto maintained a half-game lead lead over the New York Yankees for the second AL wild card. Tampa Bay, closing in on its second straight division title, began the day six games ahead of second-place Boston. The Rays, just 9-11 this month, have 10 games remaining.

There were no incidents one day after Tampa Bay's Kevin Kiermaier scooped up a data card that fell out of Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk's wristband during a play at the plate in the sixth inning and refused to give it back to the Blue Jays.

Kiermaier was called out sliding into home during the sixth inning and saw a strip of paper lying next to him after the play. He casually picked it up and took it back to Tampa Bay's dugout, where he discreetly handed it Paul Hoover, the club's field coordinator.

"I never even looked at it, I'll say that," Kiermaier told Sportsnet before Tuesday night's game. "But at the same time, I'm not going to drop it or hand it back."

Sportsnet reported Toronto sent a bat boy to the Rays dugout to ask for the card's return. Tampa Bay did not send back the card, which likely included information about the Blue Jays' plans to pitch to the Rays' hitters.

Bichette notches 98th RBI

Manoah (7-2) allowed two runs and five hits. stuck out seven and walked six — double his previous season high. Four of the walks occurred during the opening two innings.

Jordan Romano, the third Toronto reliever, walked Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Diaz and Randy Arozarena with two outs in the ninth, Joey Wendle lined a ball just foul down the right-field line on the first pitch, then hit a flyout to right that gave Romano his 20th save in 21 chances.

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Alek Manoah delivers a pitch to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning. (Chris O'Meara/AP Photo)

Bo Bichette gave Toronto a 3-2 lead with his 98th RBI, a sixth-inning sacrifice fly off Nick Anderson (0-1) as Toronto took a 3-2 lead. With a runner on second, Wendle saved a run by taking away a hit from Teoscar Hernandez with a leaping catch on a liner to shortstop.

Hernandez made it 4-2 with an RBI single in the eighth.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. put the Blue Jays up 2-1 when he connected on his career-high 21st homer against Drew Rasmussen leading off the fifth. Gurriel leads the majors with 29 RBIs in September and is one from tying Kelly Gruber (1990) for the most during the month in team history.

The Rays pulled even at 2 on Wendle's RBI single later in the fifth.

Tampa Bay sent 12 batters to the plate, aided by four walks and three hits off Manoah, over the first two innings but scored just once on Brandon Lowe's two-out RBI single in the second.

Manoah had 42 pitches through two and finished with 99.

The Blue Jays tied it at 1 when Breyvic Valera hit a third-inning run-scoring grounder.

Rasmussen gave up two runs and four hits over five innings.

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