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Bo Bichette’s two home runs lift Toronto Blue Jays over Cincinnati Reds 3-1

TORONTO – Bo Bichette had two home runs, including the go-ahead two-run shot, to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a 3-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.

They were the 50th and 51st homers of the 24-year-old shortstop’s career.

Starting pitcher Alek Manoah (5-1) was excellent, allowing one run on seven hits over eight innings, striking out four. Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., came on in the ninth inning to earn his 14th save of the season.

Santiago Espinal stretched his career-best hit streak to 14 games for Toronto (22-18), tied for the longest active streak in Major League Baseball.

Joey Votto, who grew up in Toronto, opened the scoring with an RBI double for Cincinnati (11-28).

Hunter Greene earned a no-decision, despite striking out six and allowing one run on four hits over six innings. Luis Cessa and Jeff Hoffman came on in relief, with Cessa (2-1) taking the loss.

Manoah played some sharp defence in the fourth inning when Reds left-fielder Tommy Pham had a broken-bat comebacker go directly to the burly pitcher. Manoah then casually tossed the ball to third baseman Matt Chapman to force out TJ Friedl for the easy double play.

Votto, in the next at bat, doubled down the first-base line to drive in Tyler Naquin for a 1-0 lead.

Bichette led off the bottom of the inning with a 392-foot home run to deep left field. It was his fifth homer of the season.

Espinal kept his hit streak alive with a single in the sixth inning. His 14 consecutive games with a hit matched Chicago White Sox outfielder Luis Robert for the third-longest streak of 2022.

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt had a 13-game hit streak entering play Saturday.

Raimel Tapia singled in the seventh inning and advanced to third on George Springer’s hit to centre field. Springer tried to stretch it into a double but was called out at second base. The 39,393 fans at Rogers Centre loudly booed the ensuing video review but the call on the field stood.

That brought Bichette to the plate, and he wasted no time putting the first pitch he saw from Cessa into the second deck to give the Blue Jays a 3-1 lead.

Toronto has struggled with the long ball in May, with Bichette’s home runs only the 10th and 11th by the Blue Jays in the past three weeks.

Manoah again showed his defensive prowess in the eighth, fielding a bunt from Naquin and firing it to first base for the final out of the frame. Romano struck out Pham, Votto and Tyler Stephenson for a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

NEXT UP — Yusei Kikuchi (2-1) will take the mound as the Blue Jays close out their series with the Reds. Kikuchi is coming off of one of his best outings of the season, when he allowed only one hit over six innings with six strikeouts. Cincinnati will counter with Connor Overton (1-0).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2022.

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