TORONTO – Marco Estrada came up with a superb start in the most important outing of his career, stopping the Royals' hit parade and helping the Toronto Blue Jays send the AL Championship Series back to Kansas City.
Estrada pitched one-hit ball into the eighth inning, giving Toronto's tattered bullpen a rest, and the Blue Jays beat the Royals 7-1 Wednesday to close to 3-2 in the best-of-seven matchup.
"It's the start that we needed," Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "They're a great team over there. We know that. But this guy kept them off balance and allowed the offense to settle in and get some runs."
Tulowitzki provided three of those runs on a bases-clearing double off Kelvin Herrera in the sixth, giving him seven RBI in the series. Edwin Encarnacion had walked with the bases loaded against Edinson Volquez, who seemed flustered by close calls against him.
Kansas City had 30 hits in the first two games in Toronto, but Estrada faced the minimum 20 batters before Lorenzo Cain walked with two outs in the seventh.
Yordano Ventura will start for the defending AL champions Friday in Game 6 against Toronto's David Price, the Game 2 loser.
Estrada, a 32-year-old free-agent to be, enabled his bullpen to rest, a day after Kansas City romped 14-2.
"This time around I had a better fastball command," said Estrada, who gave up three runs in the opener. "That was the key to this game."
Toronto is trying to become just the 13th team to rally and win among 80 who trailed 3-1 in a best-of-seven postseason series.
Before 49,325 roaring fans, Chris Colabello's solo homer in the second inning gave Estrada a lead.
Estrada didn't make a miscue until Salvador Perez homered with two outs in the eighth.
Alcides Escobar, who entered 9-for-15 (.600), got Kansas City's first hit when he opened the fourth with a ground single past a diving Tulowitzki.
Zobrist promptly grounded into a double play.
"He was really good today," Escobar said, referring to Estrada. "He threw the ball down, down and away, down and in. He didn't miss many pitches today."
Kansas City had no other runners until Cain walked with two outs in the seventh.
Volquez allowed just two singles after Colabello connected but lost the strike zone in the sixth inning.
A walk, hit batter and a 10-pitch walked loaded the bases.
Encarnacion walked on another pitch that upset Volquez. It was his last batter.
Herrera relieved and struck out Colabello. With the crowd chanting "Tu-lo! Tu-lo!" Tulowitzki sent a drive to the center-field wall, sending fans into a towel-waving frenzy.
Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson had consecutive doubles off Danny Duffy in the seventh to make it 6-0, and Kevin Pillar doubled in a run in the eighth.