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Gausman strong on mound, Kiermaier homers as Blue Jays top Nationals

Kevin Gausman Blue Jays Kevin Gausman - The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kevin Gausman pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings, Kevin Kiermaier hit a two-run homer in his return from the injured list and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Washington Nationals 6-3 on Saturday to end a three-game losing streak.

Gausman (2-3) allowed three hits while striking out eight. He walked two batters in the first inning, but settled in and later retired 10 straight — seven by strikeout — before leaving after Luis García Jr.’s one-out single in the sixth after 112 pitches.

“Not very efficient to be honest," Gausman said. “Too many deep counts. But I went into this game kind of knowing I was going to need to go deep and that they might push me a little bit, so I was fine with that.”

Gausman has given up two earned runs in 24 innings while striking out 21 with five walks over his last four starts.

Danny Jansen and Daulton Varsho each had two hits for the Blue Jays, who had lost eight of 11. Kiermaier returned after missing nine games with left hip flexor inflammation and connected off Derek Law in the eighth inning for his first homer of the season.

“Welcome back KK," manager John Schneider said. "Nice add-on there at the end.”

CJ Abrams and García had two hits each for the Nationals, who had won six of eight and missed a chance to go above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2021, when they were 40-39.

Washington starter Jake Irvin (2-3) allowed four unearned runs on five hits over five innings.

Toronto’s Bo Bichette was ejected by home plate umpire Jonathan Parra after slamming his helmet to the ground when he was called out on strikes on a borderline 3-2 pitch in the fifth.

“I thought it was a little early to be honest with you,” Schneider said. “You’ve seen equipment violations before an ejection and Jonathan’s thought was that it was a little bit much. Kind of tough to argue that, but yeah, I think that for a guy's first ejection probably could have been a little bit of grace there given.”

Trailing 4-0, Washington loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. Abrams hit a drive to center that was caught by Kiermaier on the warning track for a sacrifice fly and Nick Senzel followed with an RBI single.

Schneider shook up his lineup — including moving Varsho up to the number two spot and Bichette down to number five. Bichette was 1 for 3 before his ejection, raising his average to .202.

“If that’s what we think is the best option for us scoring runs, I’m willing to do whatever," Bichette said. "We’ve got get going and I haven’t done much to contribute, so whatever they want.”

Washington's defense played a major role in the Blue Jays start.

The Nationals sandwiched two throwing errors around another bad throw that erased the second out of a potential double play as the Blue Jays scored four unearned runs in the first. Two runs scored when first baseman Trey Lipscomb threw the ball into left field on Daniel Vogelbach’s bases-loaded grounder, and Jansen capped the inning with an RBI double.

“First inning was not good,” manager Davey Martinez said. “We couldn’t throw the ball to first base. So just one of those days, right? The weather was not good, but we should have made those plays."


Blue Jays: Schneider said RHP Alek Manoah (right shoulder soreness) will be reinstated and make his 2024 debut when he starts the series finale on Sunday. He has not pitched in the majors since Aug. 10.

Nationals: RHP Josiah Gray (right elbow) threw a bullpen session Saturday. Manager Dave Martinez said Gray felt good after throwing 30-35 pitches and his next bullpen will happen Tuesday or Wednesday.


Manoah will face LHP MacKenzie Gore (2-3, 3.19), who is averaging 11.03 strikeouts per nine innings.