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TOR@SEA: Bautista belts a three-run shot for the lead

SEATTLE -- The Blue Jays' four-game losing streak came to a dramatic end Wednesday afternoon thanks in part to a late-inning home run by Jose Bautista.

With his club trailing by one in the eighth, Bautista hit a three-run homer to give Toronto a lead it wouldn't relinquish in an 8-3 victory at Safeco Field.

That shot over the wall in left field allowed the Blue Jays to salvage one game in Seattle and gain a little bit of momentum heading into a crucial series against Boston.

"The biggest thing is, we came in this morning knowing that we needed a win," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "The way guys continue to go about their work, the way they responded -- we've talked about resiliency a number of times, and this might be another case of it."

The Blue Jays were in danger of losing their fifth in a row until the eventful eighth inning. Bautista came to bat and unloaded on a 2-1 pitch from right-hander Chris Ray and sent it deep into the seats in left for his third home run of the season.

Bautista has now reached base safely in nine consecutive games to start the season. It also marked the first time he homered since the third game of the season, April 3 against the Twins.

The timely hit felt even better for Bautista after he was unable to come through in his previous two opportunities with men on base.

"I know I'm in the middle of the lineup, and late in games when it's close, the team is relying on me," said Bautista, who went 1-for-5 with three RBIs and two strikeouts. "It happened twice -- one last night and one earlier today where I couldn't get it done. Luckily I had another one today and I was able to come through."

Following Bautista's at-bat, the Blue Jays broke the game wide open. Edwin Encarnacion hit an RBI double and Jose Molina added a two-run double to extend Toronto's lead to 7-2.

That made a winner out of left-hander Marc Rzepczynski, who was called into the game during a crucial situation in the sixth inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, Rzepczynski struck out Ichiro Suzuki to keep the Blue Jays within one.

It was just the second time in six at-bats that Rzepczynski retired Ichiro, with both strikeouts coming on sliders in the dirt.

"Looking at it, I felt like that was the game -- either keeping it in control or the potential of a crooked number on the board," Farrell said. "Offensively, runs were at a premium early on, so that was kind of the high point."

Toronto right-hander Kyle Drabek struggled with his control Wednesday afternoon, throwing just 59 of his 114 pitches for strikes and walking four, but he was still effective.

Drabek allowed an RBI double to Milton Bradley in the third inning and a solo home run to Justin Smoak, but that was the extent of the damage.

"I think that kid is really good," Mariners catcher Chris Gimenez said of Drabek, who allowed two runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings. "He's got a real good heater, he's throwing a little cutter, a big curveball.

"He's got a lot of late movement, which is tough, because he throws the ball so hard you've got to respect all the other stuff. I was very impressed with him."

Despite falling behind to most of the batters he faced, Drabek was able to rely on an effective two-seam fastball when behind in the count. For long periods of time he went almost exclusively to the two-seam and four-seam fastballs.

"It was kind of like the last two games," said Drabek, who has walked 11 batters in 18 2/3 innings this season. "I had to battle my way back. I would like to get ahead in the count, so I'm going to have to work on that in the upcoming [bullpen session]."

The Blue Jays went 2-4 on their West Coast road trip against the Angels and Mariners, despite outscoring their opponents, 26-25, in those six games.

Nine of Toronto's past 10 games were decided by two runs or less, and it appeared that Wednesday's game was headed in the same direction until the fateful eighth inning.

Some bad breaks, combined with some unlucky timing at the plate, led to the disappointing results on the trip.

Bautista thinks the club played much better than its record shows and is optimistic about carrying that into a four-game series against Boston.

"Anybody who has watched the games can tell you we should have won at least one of the Anaheim games," Bautista said. "We know that it wasn't a common thing that happened here two nights ago with the pitchers.

"These are the things that we're going to have to overcome, and today was the first step of doing that. Hopefully, we can take the momentum out to Boston and win some more games."

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