TORONTO — Not even Kevin Pillar saw his game-winning home run coming.
Pillar sliced a three-run homer over the left-field fence in the bottom of the eighth as the Blue Jays topped the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-2 on Friday for Toronto’s fourth straight win.
"Oh, I don’t hit enough of them to know that they’re going to be homers," said Pillar, who had one home run and nine runs batted in heading into Friday’s game. "I just thought I hit it good enough to get it over his head."
Edwin Encarnacion had reached second base on a ground-rule double in the second at bat of the inning and L.A. reliever Joe Blanton intentionally walked Justin Smoak to get to Pillar.
"I think it’s the first time someone’s been intentionally walked in front of me," said Pillar in the clubhouse after the game. "Naturally, you try to do too much and I think I got caught up in that the swing before.
"Just had to gather myself and do what I’ve been doing, just try to hit the ball hard."
Jose Bautista also hit a home run for Toronto (16-15), a two-run shot in the sixth inning to back Marcus Stroman‘s (4-0) seven inning performance. Stroman allowed eight hits but struck out eight, giving up only two runs. Gavin Floyd and Drew Storen each pitched a scoreless inning of relief.
Floyd earned the win as the pitcher of record during Pillar’s decisive at bat. Although Storen loaded the bases in the ninth inning, he escaped without giving up a run and earned the save.
"I’ve seen K.P. play from the minors and I think he’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen," said Stroman of Pillar. "The way he’s able to barrel balls up, you’re starting to see what he can do on an every-day basis.
"That’s routine for me to see from K.P., to go out there and hit homers, get three or four knocks and make diving plays, I’ve seen that since 2012."
Joc Pederson and Carl Crawford keyed the Los Angeles (14-15) offence with a double each. Kenta Maeda (3-1) struck out six over six innings of work, giving up two earned runs. Louis Coleman and Adam Liberatore came in from the bullpen for the Dodgers, with Blanton suffering the loss.
Second baseman Darwin Barney seemingly had a double to lead off the third inning for Toronto, but Dodgers right-fielder Yasiel Puig rifled a throw from the warning track to easily get the runner out.
Bautista broke the scoreless tie in the sixth inning, blasting a home run into the second deck in left field, driving in Josh Donaldson for a 2-0 Blue Jays lead. The ball was so well hit that Dodgers left-fielder Crawford didn’t even move, instead simply watching the ball sail high above him.
"That was a big hit for Jose too," said Pillar. "He’s been struggling a bit, to his standards., so it was good to come up with a big hit."
Pederson and Crawford hit consecutive doubles for L.A. in the seventh to cut in to Toronto’s lead, then Chase Utley’s single to centre field cashed in Crawford to tie the game 2-2.
The 42,304 in attendance at Rogers Centre began chanting "M-V-P" as Donaldson came to the plate with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the seventh. But the reigning American League MVP fouled out on the first pitch, ending the inning and keeping the score tied.
There was some controversy in the ninth inning. Crawford grounded into a force out with Howie Kendrick sliding into second base, knocking over Toronto second baseman Darwin Barney, who dropped the ball. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons challenged the play, arguing that Kendrick interfered with Barney and that Crawford should be out at first.
After video review the umpires ruled that Yasmani Grandal was safe at third, Kendrick was out, but Crawford was safe.
"It looked to me like a grab, but I don’t know what you guys saw," said Gibbons to media after the game.
Notes: Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was not in the lineup, with Gibbons saying it was simply a day off. Ryan Goins took over short in Tulowitzki’s absence. … Toronto closer Roberto Osuna sat out the game with a strained groin. … Former Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos, now in the Dodgers front office, addressed media before the game.