TORONTO— Josh Donaldson hit an early home run, Nick Tepesch pitched six-plus innings and the Toronto Blue Jays held on to edge the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 Monday in the opener of a four-game series between the division rivals.
Donaldson’s two-run homer in the first inning provided the only offence needed for the Blue Jays (57-61), who opened play four games back of a wild card spot.
Tepesch (1-2) collected his first win in a Toronto uniform, allowing one run on four hits, three walks and two hit batsmen. Closer Roberto Osuna pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to record a four-out save.
Tepesch had allowed five earned runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings against the New York Yankees in his first start for the Blue Jays last week. He was acquired from Minnesota in July for cash considerations.
Jake Odorizzi (6-6) gave up two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out four over six innings and Wilson Ramos had a solo home run for the Rays (60-60).
Odorizzi got off to a rough start, walking leadoff batter Jose Bautista before giving up a Donaldson home run to right field for a 2-0 Blue Jays lead. The homer was Donaldson’s 17th of the season and eighth in his last 16 games.
Wilson got one run back for Tampa in the second inning, launching a 1-1 offering from Tepesch over the centre-field fence.
Tepesch escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, after issuing a pair of one-out walks and hitting Daniel Robertson with two out, when Corey Dickerson hit a fly ball to the right-field warning track to end the inning.
Tepesch retired the next six batters he faced, needing just 15 pitches to do so.
The 28-year-old right-hander started the seventh inning by hitting Peter Bourjos in the knee with a pitch, his second hit batter of the day, and walking Robertson to end his night. Aaron Loup came in and got a strange force out, with the umpire originally calling two Tampa players out at second base. The play was reviewed and overturned, leaving Tampa with just one out, and Loup got a strikeout and pop fly to end the inning.
NOTES: Donaldson has hit seven of his last 10 homers in the first inning. … Attendance was 32,151. … Toronto called up left-handed reliever Tim Mayza before the game. … The Blue Jays continue their four-game series against Tampa Bay on Tuesday night. Marco Estrada (5-7, 4.85 earned-run average) will start for Toronto while the Rays counter with Blake Snell (0-6, 4.69 ERA).