- Associated Press - Saturday, July 30, 2016

TORONTO (AP) - With one big inning and another strong start from J.A. Happ, the Blue Jays moved into the AL East lead.

Happ won his eighth straight decision, Devon Travis homered and Toronto used a seven-run fifth to beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-1 Saturday, taking sole possession of first place for the first time since early April.

“There’s still a lot of baseball left, but I feel we’re starting to play good ball,” Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said.

Toronto, which won for the 16th time in 22 games, had not been alone atop its division since a 2-0 start. The Blue Jays have scored seven or more runs in an inning three times this season.

Kevin Pillar had two hits and drove in four runs to match his career high. Major league RBIs leader Edwin Encarnacion drove in his 89th run.

Pedro Alvarez hit a solo homer for the Orioles, who matched a season-high by losing their fifth straight and fell a half-game behind the Blue Jays.

“Obviously, we’re not playing the way we’re capable of right now,” Baltimore pitcher Yovani Gallardo said.

Happ (14-3) allowed one run and three hits in seven-plus innings.

“He hit his spots pretty well today,” Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo said. “There won’t a whole lot to hit.”

Happ walked three and matched his season-high with 11 strikeouts in what manager John Gibbons called “a dominating outing.” Happ struck out a career-high 12 against Baltimore on Aug. 7, 2014.

“He was on today,” Martin said. “His fastball was just exploding toward the plate.”

Josh Donaldson had two singles and walked twice before being replaced by pinch-runner Darwin Barney in the eighth. Gibbons said Donaldson had tightness in his hamstring.

“We don’t think it’s a big deal,” Gibbons said.

Alvarez connected on an 0-2 pitch with two out in the second, his 13th.

Travis tied it with a line-drive homer off Gallardo (3-3) in the fifth. Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson walked, Encarnacion hit an RBI double and Michael Saunders was intentionally walked.

“I just wasn’t able to get ahead of guys like I was doing early in the game,” Gallardo said.

Mychal Givens walked Troy Tulowitzki, then gave up two-run doubles to Russell Martin and Kevin Pillar.

Showalter said Givens had a flat breaking ball.

“They’re a good offensive team, they make you pay for mistakes,” Showalter said.

Gallardo (3-3) lost for the first time in five career meetings with the Blue Jays, including the opener of last year’s AL Division Series. He allowed five runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Baltimore chased Happ in the eighth and loaded the bases against Joe Biagini with no outs but couldn’t score. Jonathan Schoop grounded into a fielder’s choice, Manny Machado flied out and Brett Cecil came on to strike out Chris Davis.

“We know we’re going to have to score more than one but Happ didn’t make that possible,” Showalter said.


Toronto’s Melvin Upton Jr. broke his bat over a thigh after striking out in the fifth.


Toronto agreed to pay $325,137 to Seattle as part of Tuesday’s trade that sent RHP Drew Storen to the Mariners for RHP Joaquin Benoit.


Toronto’s biggest inning of the season was an eight-run sixth in a 17-1 win over Cleveland on July 3.


RHP Chris Tillman (14-3), Baltimore’s scheduled starter Sunday, allowed six runs and nine hits in five innings in a 6-3 loss to Colorado in his last outing. Toronto RHP Aaron Sanchez (11-1) has won his past 10 decisions.

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