D-backs hold off late Jays rally in win
Arizona is now on a four-game winning streak
PHOENIX -- Four late runs by the Blue Jays made things interesting, but could not spoil Edwin Jackson's outing Saturday afternoon.
The D-backs right-hander won his second straight start, and Arizona's 8-5 victory was its fourth in a row.
Suddenly, the team that went 0-6 on its last homestand is one win from sweeping the Jays and finishing this one with a 5-0 mark.
"We've set ourselves up nicely," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. "We're playing better baseball, the momentum is in our favor, we've got our confidence back a little bit. We need to take care of business [Sunday]."
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
The Arizona offense is certainly doing its part. The D-backs have now scored at least eight runs in each of their last four games, the first time they've done that since the 2001 World Series season.
"We're jumping on top early against teams and putting good at-bats together," third baseman Mark Reynolds said.
The D-backs' hitters didn't let Toronto starter Dana Eveland get his legs under him as they jumped on the lefty for four runs in the first inning.
Eveland (3-4) almost got out of the inning, but back-to-back two-out RBI hits by Adam LaRoche and Reynolds got the D-backs on the board, and Chris Young capped things with a two-run double down the left-field line.
The scene was replayed in the second as the D-backs chased Eveland with another four-run inning that was once again capped by a two-out, two-run hit by Young.
"We did a really good job of getting to the next hitter and continuing to pressure, and did it without the long ball, which is good to see," Hinch said. "In a lot of ways we have to convince ourselves that we can score that way and not wait around for the three-run homer."
The offensive outburst gave Jackson an 8-1 lead to work with.
"We kind of lost that game in the second inning, really," Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "It was a tough two innings for Eveland and it's tough to come back on a guy like Jackson."
When Jackson has struggled this year it's when he stops being aggressive early in the count. When he falls behind, hitters are able to sit on his fastball.
Despite having a big lead, though, Jackson continued to go right after hitters.
"He pitched very well with the lead, and I can't emphasize that enough," Hinch said. "Everyone thinks it's easy to pitch with a lead, but against a potent offense he was still in attack mode."
The Jays did not look very dangerous through seven innings, as Jackson allowed just a pair of hits.
"You still have to go out there like it's a close game and go at people," Jackson said. "It's easy to get complacent and let teams back in the game. You just have to go out there and keep pitching like it's a 0-0 game. They're definitely an aggressive team. It's a team you have to execute pitches against."
Jackson did hit a wall in the eighth though, as he gave up back-to-back singles to start it off before Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run homer to left. It was the fourth homer in two days for Encarnacion and it cut the Arizona lead to 8-4.
After striking out the next two hitters, Jackson gave up a homer to Aaron Hill and Hinch decided to take him out, but not before having a talk with him on the mound.
"Gave him as upbeat an attitude as I have and let him know he did his job, battled all night and we were going to get the last few outs for him," Hinch said. "It's unfortunate for him. It doesn't spoil it completely, I don't think anything spoils a win, especially for him who battled all night. He got a little tired at the end and it cost him."
Esmerling Vasquez got the final out of the eighth and closer Chad Qualls pitched a scoreless frame to earn his ninth save.
"Hopefully we can just keep going and build momentum," Reynolds said.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.