AP

Surging Blues Jays edge Pirates 4-3 to complete 3-game sweep

Sep 4, 2022, 12:19 AM | Updated: 3:10 pm

Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Jordan Romano reacts after striking out Pittsburgh Pirates' Kevin Newman for the final out in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Toronto Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider has plenty of things to worry about on a daily basis.

Closer Jordan Romano is not one of them.

So even as Romano put the tying and winning runs in scoring position with no outs in the ninth inning on Sunday against Pittsburgh, Schneider didn’t consider issuing an intentional walk to load the bases.

Better to just let Romano do what he does as well as anyone in the major leagues at the moment: attack.

“He’s a animal out there,” Schneider said. “I mean, he just can lock it in with the best of them.”

The proof came to life over the next three batters as Romano struck out Josh VanMeter, Tucupita Marcano and Kevin Newman to close out a 4-3 victory that completed a three-game sweep of the Pirates.

The win gives Toronto momentum for a pivotal series at Baltimore starting Monday.

“It’s not a beauty pageant up here,” Romano said. “You’ve just got to get the job done.”

Romano’s 30th save required more work than he would have liked. Jack Suwinski beat the shift by singling to left and Cal Mitchell followed with a sharp grounder that deflected off Romano’s glove and rolled into left field. Pinch-runner Greg Allen promptly stole second and Romano appeared to be in trouble.

It turned out to be a mirage. VanMeter flailed at a 98 mph fastball. Marcano couldn’t connect on an 88 mph changeup and when Newman failed to reach an 89 mph slider on the corner, the Blue Jays improved to 12-5 in their last 17, a push that’s propelled them into the third spot in the tight American League wild-card race.

“Wins are hard to come by in the big leagues,” Schneider said. “So when you’re feeling pretty good going into big series, it’s a good thing.”

Teoscar Hernandez delivered the go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning by lining a shot up the middle against Duane Underwood Jr. (1-5) and the bullpen did the rest as the Blue Jays improved to a season-best 14 games over .500 (73-59).

Alejandro Kirk also had two hits for Toronto. Cavan Biggio hit his fifth home of the season and second in five days for the Blue Jays.

Ross Stripling (7-4) allowed three runs on two hits with three walks and eight strikeouts in six innings. Toronto improved to 6-1 in Stripling’s last seven starts dating to July 13 and bounced back from a bumpy home stand last week against the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs to pounce on the reeling Pirates, who are 11-34 in their last 45 games.

“(They were) all close games, but we found a way to win them all kind of different ways,” Stripling said. “So it gives you confidence for sure.”

Rookie shortstop Oneil Cruz hit his 12th home run for the Pirates, a lined shot to the bullpen beyond the centerfield wall with one out in the fifth that tied the game at 3. VanMeter added a two-run double for Pittsburgh, but the Pirates mustered little else and nothing when it mattered in the ninth.

“We’ve got to find a way to make contact,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I understand the execution of pitches by Romano and he’s really good, but we’ve got to give ourselves a chance and we didn’t.”

Underwood, who took the loss on Saturday night after giving up a bases-clearing triple to Bo Bichette, struggled for a second straight appearance. Danny Jansen and Matt Chapman singled to start the seventh.

Underwood caught a break when Vlad Guerrero Jr. grounded into a double play but Hernandez followed with a clean single up the middle to put Toronto in front. Only a spectacular diving catch by Suwinski on a sinking liner to the gap in left-center by Bichette prevented the Blue Jays from breaking it open.

SOLOMON CLAIMED

The Pirates claimed former Houston reliever Peter Solomon off waivers. Solomon, a rookie went 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in six appearances with the Astros before being designated for assignment on Sept. 1.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: OF/DH Ben Gamel returned to the lineup after missing two games with left foot soreness. … All-Star closer David Bednar, out since July 30 with backs soreness threw a bullpen session pregame.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: Take a 2 1/2 game lead over Baltimore heading into a four-game set that starts with a doubleheader on Monday. The series is the first of three meetings between the AL East rivals over the final month of the season.

Pirates: Welcome the NL East-leading New York Mets for a three-game series starting on Monday. New York’s Taijuan Walker (10-3, 3.45) faces Mitch Keller (4-10, 4.43 ERA).

___

This story has been corrected to show Kirk’s first name is Alejandro, not Christian.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Surging Blues Jays edge Pirates 4-3 to complete 3-game sweep