A’S PEARCED BY SLAM.

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - NEIL DAVID­SON

TORONTO — Steve Pearce and Kendrys Mo­rales ham­mered their way into the Blue Jays record book Thurs­day af­ter­noon as Toronto fin­ished off a four-game sweep of the Oak­land Ath­let­ics with a lit­tle panache.

There were some ca­su­al­ties en route to the 8-4 Amer­i­can League base­ball win, capped by Pearce’s grand slam in the 10th in­ning. Man­ager John Gib­bons, pitcher Mar­cus Stro­man and catcher Rus­sell Martin were all ejected in the fifth in a beef with home plate um­pire Will Lit­tle. Toronto trailed 3-1 at the time. Fast for­ward to the ninth and Mo­rales, whose homer in the ninth had given the Jays a 3-2 walk off win the night be­fore, hit his sec­ond solo home run of the af­ter­noon to tie the game at 4-4.

Af­ter a 1-2-3 10th in­ning by closer Roberto Osuna (3-0), Toronto went to work on for­mer Jay Liam Hen­driks (3-2). Walks to Miguel Mon­tero, Justin Smoak and fi­nally Mo­rales with two outs loaded the bases, set­ting the stage for Pearce to drive home the fi­nal nail with a blast deep to left on a 3-2 count.

It marked the first walk off homers in back-to-back games in fran­chise his­tory. Pearce beamed as he cir­cled the bases on his sec­ond ca­reer grand slam and first walk off homer. He joins Ge­orge Bell (1988) and Gregg Zaun (2008) as the only Jays to hit a walk off slam.

“It felt good off the bat,” the soft­spo­ken Pearce said.

“Our bullpen came in and did a great job and we found a way to get it done. So it was just a great day,” he added.

Now Toronto (48-54) has to keep the wins com­ing with the Los An­ge­les An­gels com­ing to town. It had looked like Mar­cus Semien’s eighth-in­ning RBI sin­gle would give the Ath­let­ics a 4-3 win. But Mo­rales’ ninth-in­ning blast kept things go­ing.

It was his 20th home run of the sea­son. Mo­rales leads the ma­jors this sea­son with four ninth-in­ning homers that have helped his team tie or take the lead.

Semien had sin­gled off reliever Ryan Tepera with two outs to score Jay­cob Brug­man, who sin­gled to open the in­ning and moved to sec­ond on a wild pitch.

Nei­ther team seemed happy with Lit­tle’s work from the get-go and his calls sparked a flash­point in the fifth in­ning.

Gib­bons was the first to go, get­ting the heave-ho for some com­ments from the dugout.

Stro­man and Martin were dis­missed soon af­ter, fol­low­ing Stro­man’s sea­son-high sixth walk of the game. Stro­man charged home plate and had to be re­strained by bench coach DeMarlo Hale as he at­tempted to get at Lit­tle.

It was Gib­bons’ fourth ejec­tion of the sea­son, bring­ing the team to­tal to seven. Stro­man and Martin are the first Jays play­ers to be tossed in 2017.

Hale took over postgame me­dia du­ties for Gib­bons. Stro­man spoke but not about the ejec­tions.

“When it comes to um­pires or any­thing like that, I’m not go­ing to be mak­ing any com­ments about that,” said Stro­man. “I want to make my next start.”

Said Hale: “It was an emo­tional game, with some balls and strikes that were ques­tion­able. But that’s part of the game. It got to a point where some­thing was said and it kind of es­ca­lated”

Stro­man, who wears his heart on is sleeve at all times, walked a ca­reer-high six bat­ters.

“It’s frus­trat­ing when I walk six guys That’s not me at all,” said Stro­man, who threw 90 pitches of which just 52 were strikes.

The Ath­let­ics have their own his­tory with Lit­tle, who ejected man­ager Bob Melvin and Jed Lowrie ear­lier this sea­son.

“Both sides prob­a­bly had some is­sues to­day,” said Melvin. “Cer­tainly they took a lit­tle more ex­cep­tion. He’s a good guy, he works hard. He’s a young um­pire. It is what it is.”

The crowd of 47,484 booed the ejec­tions. Chris Smith came into pitch with Mon­tero catch­ing for Toronto, with Smith get­ting his first ma­jor-league strike­out.

Mo­rales re­sponded with his bat — open­ing the Jays’ half of the fifth with a solo homer to cut Oak­land’s lead to 3-2. Smoak’s RBI sin­gle in the sixth tied the game at 3-3.

Stro­man, who has been both­ered by a raw patch on his fin­ger, grit­ted his way through the 4 2/3 in­nings he lasted. He walked four bat­ters in the first two in­nings and trailed 3-1 af­ter the first. The righthander faced 16 hit­ters in the first three in­nings alone.

It’s the Jays first four-game win streak since a five-game run May 21-27.

PHO­TOS BY MARK BLINCH, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Blue Jays’ Steve Pearce throws his bat in cel­e­bra­tion af­ter hit­ting a walkoff grand slam in the 10th in­ning to beat Oak­land on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Toronto bench coach DeMarlo Hale, tries to hold back Blue Jays start­ing pitcher Mar­cus Stro­man and catcher Rus­sell Martin af­ter they were ejected by um­pire Will Lit­tle, pic­tured right, in the fifth in­ning.

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