Canadian Paxton handcuffs Toronto batters
TORONTO — Canadian left-hander James Paxton struck out nine over seven innings and Seth Smith drove in the tiebreaking run in the fifth as the Seattle Mariners edged the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 on Friday.
The Ladner, B.C., native’s only real mistake came in the second inning, when he allowed a solo home run to his former Seattle teammate and fellow Canadian Michael Saunders.
Paxton (3-4) gave up just three hits and retired 12 straight after the homer to Saunders. A walk to Josh Thole in the sixth inning snapped that streak.
Josh Donaldson, with a double, and Troy Tulowitzki, with a single, accounted for the rest of Toronto’s (54-43) offence off Paxton.
Marco Estrada (5-4) shouldered the loss, allowing two runs on seven hits while hitting two batters, walking one and striking out two in his first start since July 2.
The 33-year-old right-hander went on the disabled list with a back injury prior to the all-star break.
Robinson Cano drove in the other run for the Mariners (49-47) on a fielder’s choice. Edwin Diaz struck out two more Toronto batters in the eighth and Steve Cishek rung up three in the ninth for a total 14 K’s.
Toronto threatened in the ninth with a two-out walk from Edwin Encarnacion and a single by Tulowitzki. Saunders struck out to end the game.
Former Blue Jay Adam Lind hit a double in his return to Rogers Centre since being traded to Milwaukee for Estrada before the 2015 season.
Estrada got off to a rough start in the first inning, allowing a triple to Seattle’s leadoff man Nori Aoki and hitting the second batter, Smith, in the span of three pitches.
Aoki scored on a fielder’s choice from Cano to give the Mariners a quick 1-0 lead.
Saunders evened the score with his solo shot off Paxton in the second inning, sending a 3-1 fastball over the centre-field fence for his 17th homer of the season.
Smith put the Mariners up 2-1 when his double off Estrada in the fifth plated Shawn O’Malley from second base. Smith’s hit was Seattle’s sixth of the night, ending Estrada’s impressive streak of 13 consecutive starts allowing five hits or fewer.
Estrada ran into more trouble in the sixth, loading the bases with one out on a single, walk and hit batter.
A strikeout to O’Malley roused the Rogers Centre crowd, and a shallow fly ball caught by a forward-sliding Kevin Pillar brought the 46,737 to their feet.
NOTES: Thole started in place of Russell Martin, who passed out and banged his knee while taking a shower. An MRI showed no structural damage . ... Canadian tennis player Vasek Pospisil threw out the ceremonial first pitch . ... The Blue Jays continue their three-game series against Seattle on Saturday afternoon. R.A. Dickey (7-10, 4.11 earned-run average) starts for Toronto . ... Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6, 4.01 ERA) counters for the Mariners.
Blue Jays centre-fielder Kevin Pillar makes a sliding catch at Rogers Centre Friday night. The Blue Jays lost 2-1.