NORTH-SOUTH PLAY

Ryan Goins and the Blue Jays strike back and avoid sweep against White Sox be­fore hit­ting the road to take on the Rangers start­ing tonight,

Toronto Star - - SPORTS - LAURA ARM­STRONG SPORTS RE­PORTER

Four days af­ter his game-win­ning solo home run beat the Tampa Bay Rays, Blue Jays catcher Rus­sell Martin joked that he was happy to be back in the spot­light if it meant he was do­ing some­thing right.

In the sixth in­ning of Sun­day’s game against the Chicago White Sox at the Rogers Cen­tre, Martin launched a drive off the top of the cen­tre-field wall and over for a tworun homer.

The Jays racked up three runs in all in the sixth and three more in the sev­enth on the way to a 7-3 victory, avoid­ing an em­bar­rass­ing sweep at the hands of the Amer­i­can League Cen­tral’s last-place club.

“I def­i­nitely bar­relled it, but I wasn’t sure,” Martin said.

“It wasn’t a no-doubter, by any means. I saw on the re­play that it hit the top of the wall, so it might make up for all the times that I’ve hit the ball hard at some­body this year.”

Five of Martin’s seven long balls in 2017 have tied the game or given the Jays a lead.

“I just want to keep do­ing that, keep help­ing the team win,” he said. “We’ve still got a ways to go, but we’re head­ing in the right di­rec­tion.”

Af­ter al­low­ing 16 White Sox runs over the pre­vi­ous two games, the Jays struck back with their 27th multi-homer game of the sea­son. In the sev­enth in­ning, des­ig­nated hit­ter Kendrys Mo­rales cranked a two-run bul­let for his third dinger in four games.

Ev­ery Jays starter man­aged at least one hit Sun­day, with Jose Bautista snap­ping an 0-for-11 slump with a one-out sin­gle in the sev­enth, right be­fore Mo­rales’ blast.

“Ev­ery­body’s go­ing to have to con­trib­ute for us to have suc­cess, and that’s what we kind of do,” said Martin.

“We kind of rally off each other, and to­day was one of those days.”

The hits didn’t come early for the Jays — just two in the first three frames. Catcher Martin cred­ited Jays starter J.A. Happ for keep­ing the Jays close un­til the of­fence started to heat up.

Af­ter fac­ing just 15 bat­ters through four shutout in­nings, Happ al­lowed three straight sin­gles in the fifth for the first Chicago run. Another sin­gle, end­ing an eight-pitch bat­tle with White Sox slug­ger Jose Abreu, cashed in two more.

But that’s all they would get off Happ in his sec­ond-long­est start of the sea­son: 62⁄ in­nings. The lefty

3 struck out nine and walked none.

The Jays got on the board in the bot­tom of the fifth when Steve Pearce — who fin­ished the day 3 for 4 — scored on a Kevin Pil­lar sin­gle. Martin’s sixth-in­ning homer knocked out White Sox starter James Shields, mak­ing his first ap­pear­ance since April 16 af­ter a lat strain.

With An­thony Swarzak on in re­lief, Pearce sin­gled and Ryan Goins tripled — his fourth three-bag­ger of the sea­son — to put the Jays ahead 4-3.

Mo­rales’ sev­enth-in­ning homer to left-cen­tre was clocked at 112 m.p.h. and pro­jected at 460 feet, ac­cord­ing to MLB’s Stat­cast.

The Jays, at 33-35, now head out on the road for seven games against the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Roy­als, still chas­ing that elu­sive .500 mark against a pair of teams in the same sit­u­a­tion.

Sun­day’s feel-good win puts the Jays in a good mood for the trip, Martin said.

As for man­ager John Gib­bons, who calls San An­to­nio home, he ex­pects some tight, back-and-forth games in Texas — and was look­ing for­ward to the trip.

“It’s al­ways a good thing to go to the Lone Star state.”

TOM SZCZERBOWSKI/GETTY IM­AGES

Leap­ing White Sox cen­tre-fielder Willy Gar­cia just misses a drive off the bat of Blue Jay Rus­sell Martin, which bounced off the top of the fence and over for a two-run homer that put the home side ahead to stay on Sun­day.

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