August 21, 2018 9:57 am

Morales hits pair of home runs in Blue Jays 5-3 win over Orioles

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Marco Estrada won’t think about the possibility of being traded, even as the post-season roster deadline on Aug. 31 approaches.

Estrada allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings as the Toronto Blue Jays held off the Baltimore Orioles for a 5-3 win on Monday night. The 35-year-old right-handed veteran could be an attractive trade target for a playoff contender as the Blue Jays look to build for the future.

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“Listen, right now, I’m a Blue Jay. I’ve said it a million times, I love playing here. This is my main concern,” said Estrada (7-9), who allowed seven hits and struck out four. “If (a trade) happens, then, whoever that move is to then I’ll focus on that.

“Right now I’m here, I’m a Blue Jay, I’m focused on playing here. Plain and simple.”

Estrada had a 5.68 earned-run average in his first 11 games of the season but has a 4.10 ERA in his past 11 starts. Even though Estrada has struggled with his velocity lately, topping out at 86 mph, he feels like he has good command.

READ MORE: J.A. Happ helps beat former mates as Yankees cruise to 10-2 win over Blue Jays

“I was happy with the locating,” said Estrada. “There was maybe two or three hard-hit balls, and that’s going to happen, but for the most part I felt like we were in control, especially after we scored a bunch of runs.”

Kendrys Morales hit a pair of home runs, including a three-run shot in the four-run sixth inning, for Toronto (56-69). Kevin Pillar had two doubles and batted in a run for the Blue Jays a day after a costly baserunning error angered manager John Gibbons.

Pillar was caught trying to steal third base for the final out of the sixth inning in Sunday’s 10-2 loss in New York. After Pillar hit the first of his two doubles in the first inning on Monday, Gibbons turned to a TV camera in the Blue Jays dugout, smiled, and gave a thumbs up.

“I’m trying to go out there and help us win games every day,” said Pillar, who felt he had nothing to make up for. “It feels good to go out there and contribute, but nothing new to me.”

Ryan Tepera, Jaime Garcia, Tyler Clippard and Ken Giles came out of the bullpen to preserve Toronto’s lead. Giles earned his 16th save of the season.

Andrew Cashner (4-11) gave up five runs over six innings before reliever Mike Wright Jr., took over for him. Wright pitched a scoreless inning, as did Mychal Givens. Renato Nunez had a solo homer for Baltimore (37-88).

Pillar hit his second double of the night in the fifth, driving in a run for a 2-1 Toronto lead.

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Morales piled on two batters later, crushing the ball 437 feet for a three-run shot. The long ball was his 16th of the season and made it Morales’s 22nd multi-homer game in his big league career.

“The second one he threw me a meatball, pretty much,” said Morales through a translator. “I hit it much better than the first one.”

Nunez answered for the Orioles in the sixth inning, putting a solo shot over the left-centre field wall to make it 5-2. Craig Gentry followed that with a double to left field, but Curtis Granderson misplayed the ball, allowing the Baltimore veteran to reach third on an error. That ended Estrada’s night and brought in Tepera.

Catcher Caleb Joseph put a sharply hit double to centre field to cash in Gentry before Tepera could induce a pair of groundouts to end the inning.

Toronto’s bullpen shut the door for the next three innings, with Giles getting a flyout and two groundouts in the ninth inning to earn the save.

Blue Jays rookie catcher Danny Jansen hit a ground rule double in the fourth inning, extending his hit streak to six games since he made his big league debut on Aug. 13. The hit tied him with Junior Felix for the second longest Blue Jays rookie hit streak at the start of their MLB career. Jesse Barfield and Ryan Goins are tied for the longest at eight games.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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