TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays used a big first inning to avoid a dubious place in baseball history, helping right-hander Aaron Sanchez earn his first win in more than three months.
Aledmys Diaz hit a three-run homer in a seven-run first, Sanchez matched a season best with eight strikeouts in six innings and the Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 10-3 on Wednesday night to prevent a three-game sweep.
Billy McKinney added a solo homer as Toronto won for the third time in 12 meetings with the Rays this season. Tampa Bay's four-game winning streak was snapped.
"Anytime you're trying to come back from three-run homers in the first inning, it makes it challenging," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Tampa Bay outfielder Kevin Kiermaier hit two solo home runs for his third career multihomer game. He also did it against Toronto on Aug. 23, 2017.
Toronto had managed five hits or fewer in its previous seven meetings with Tampa Bay, matching the longest such streak in the majors since 1920. The Baltimore Orioles did it to the Washington Senators between Sept. 11, 1968 and April 18, 1969, according to STATS.
The Blue Jays skirted taking sole possession of the mark with a six-hit first, sending 12 batters to the plate. Devon Travis had two hits in the inning, one fewer than the Blue Jays managed over nine innings in Tuesday's 4-0 defeat.
Sanchez (4-5) allowed three runs and six hits to win for the first time since June 3 at Detroit.
"Getting that cushion early on allowed me to go out there and work on things I've been putting into play in between starts," said Sanchez, who made his third start since missing two months because of an injured finger.
Sanchez allowed two runs in the second but retired 11 of 12 from the end of that inning until Kiermaier's second homer in the sixth.
"He had a little blip there in the second where he lost command but then he got pretty nasty, pretty quick," Cash said.
Sanchez was also fortunate to escape potential injury in the second, managing to get his glove in front of his face to deflect a hard liner from Rays catcher Nick Ciuffo. The ball rolled into foul territory, giving Ciuffo his first career hit.
"I had an incident like that in high school where I hit a kid in the face," Ciuffo said. "You never want to see that happen to anybody."
Kiermaier's home runs were his fifth and sixth of the season. A fan made a barehand catch on Kiermaier's second drive.
Blue Jays right fielder Randal Grichuk made a sensational leaping catch on Kiermaier's liner to the wall to end the third. Kiermaier, a two-time Gold Glove winner, stopped on the basepaths to applaud Grichuk's play, waiting to give the outfielder a playful shove as Grichuk jogged back to his dugout.
"I told him it was a heck of a play, don't ever do it again," Kiermaier said.
Grichuk was on the other end when Mallex Smith caught his drive to wall in right for the final out of the sixth.
Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow (1-5) faced 10 batters and got two outs, his shortest career start. Glasnow allowed seven runs and five hits.
"He wasn't able to land his breaking ball," Cash said. "I think the Blue Jays' lineup kind of realized that."
Blue Jays 1B Rowdy Tellez entered as a pinch-hitter in the sixth and lined the first pitch of his major league career for an RBI double. Tellez, who lost his mother to cancer earlier this summer, struggled to contain himself after his hit. "I was just trying not to cry," Tellez said. "A pretty emotional moment for me."
Blue Jays: Manager John Gibbons said RHP Marcus Stroman (blister) will miss his next scheduled start, Sunday against Cleveland. LHP Thomas Pannone will face the Indians instead. Stroman is reluctant to shut down his season despite persistent blister issues. ... RHP David Paulino (shoulder) was activated from the disabled list. Paulino was acquired from Houston in the July 30 trade that sent closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros.
The assault case against Osuna was adjourned for two weeks Wednesday. Osuna's lawyer, Domenic Basile, told reporters he continues to have discussions with Crown prosecutors about a resolution to the case, which is scheduled to resume Sept. 19.
Rays: After an off day, LHP Blake Snell (17-5, 2.02 ERA) starts Friday in the opener of a three-game series at Baltimore. Snell, the AL pitcher of the month for August, has won five straight starts. RHP Dylan Bundy (7-13, 5.36) goes for the Orioles.
Blue Jays: RHP Sam Gaviglio (3-7, 5.02 ERA) pitches Thursday in the opener of a four-game series against Cleveland. Gaviglio went 1-3 with a 4.82 ERA in five August starts. RHP Shane Bieber (8-3, 4.66) starts for the Indians.