CINCINNATI - The Toronto Blue Jays have quite the act to follow.
The American League East leaders take aim at a second straight victory on Saturday afternoon in the middle contest of a three-game set with the Cincinnati Reds.
The Blue Jays seemed well on their way to an eighth loss in 10 games in Friday's opener, falling behind 8-0 after the second inning. However, they began to chip away, starting with Edwin Encarnacion's three-run homer in the third frame, and trailed 9-3 after the fifth inning before catching fire and battling back for a 14-9 win.
Toronto tied the contest in the eighth inning on Dioner Navarro's RBI double and Encarnacion highlighted a five-run ninth frame with another three-run homer, his MLB-leading 23rd longball of the year.
Juan Francisco had a two-run homer and Brett Lawrie added a solo shot as Toronto snapped a three-game losing streak.
"What a ballgame. Those things are some kind of rare," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said on his team's website. "We're down 8-0, you're scrambling, and basically all you're thinking is, 'How are we going to get through this game with the pitching?' Then of course Edwin got us on the board, we had some other action, we kind of held them in check and then we just kind of exploded."
Devin Mesoraco and Jay Bruce hit two-run homers in the big second inning for the Reds, and Mesoraco added a run-scoring groundout in the fifth inning, but Cincinnati ended up losing its second straight game after winning six of seven.
"Fortunately, tonight's loss counts as one loss. Unfortunately, it was an ugly loss," Reds manager Bryan Price said on his team's official website. "And that is one of the types of losses that affects everybody."
Despite the epic comeback, the Blue Jays hope that starter J.A. Happ can prevent the club from falling behind big again today.
Happ has won five of his last seven starts and is coming off a 5-2 victory in Baltimore on Sunday. The left-hander had one of his better outings of the year, allowing one run on seven hits over six innings while striking out six without a walk.
Happ, 31, improved to 6-3 with a 4.05 earned run average on the year and is 1-2 lifetime versus the Reds with a 5.64 ERA in five meetings.
Looking to right the Reds' ship will be Mike Leake, but he will need to put his June struggles behind him to do so.
Leake has pitched to an 8.22 ERA in three outings this month, losing the first two before getting plenty of support in a 13-4 victory over Milwaukee on Sunday. The 26-year-old righty needed the help as he allowed four runs on nine hits and three walks in five innings of work.
Leake is 4-6 with a 3.80 ERA on the season and lost his only previous start against the Blue Jays on June 17, 2011, though he allowed just three runs over seven innings.
Toronto is 9-4 versus Cincinnati dating back to the 2003 campaign.