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Biggio’s plunk lifts Blue Jays over Phillies 2-1; Romano earns 29th save in return

TORONTO — Cavan Biggio was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded as the Toronto Blue Jays scratched out a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.

A pitcher’s duel between starters Yusei Kikuchi and Zack Wheeler had the score tied 1-1 when Toronto (67-54) loaded the bases in the eighth inning, setting up Biggio’s game-winning plunk.

George Springer’s RBI single was the only traditional run scored by the Blue Jays.

Kikuchi earned a no decision despite pitching a quality six innings where he allowed one run on four hits and struck out seven.

Yimi Garcia, Jordan Hicks, and Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., came out of Toronto’s bullpen. Hicks was credited with the victory.

Romano earned his 29th save of the season in his first appearance in August after he spent 17 days on the injured list.

Johan Rojas had an RBI single as Philadelphia (65-55) lost its third straight.

Wheeler held the Blue Jays to a run on three hits and four walks, with five strikeouts over seven innings. Seranthony Dominguez took the loss, with Jeff Hoffman also pitching.

Defence and sharp pitching set the tone early, with both Kikuchi and Wheeler keeping hitters off the bases.

Kikuchi struck out Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos — the heart of Philadelphia’s batting order — to end the fourth inning and bring his Ks up to six.

Wheeler, though effective, had his pitch total run higher than Kikuchi’s thanks to a pair of walks to Biggio in the second and fourth innings, as well as a single to Brandon Belt to lead off the fourth.

Philadelphia finally got to Kikuchi in the sixth. Edmundo Sosa led off the inning with a sharply hit ball that went up the third-base line and off Santiago Espinal’s glove for a single. Rojas then hit a double to deep left field with the speedy Sosa not hesitating to round second and third, easily beating the throw from Toronto left-fielder Whit Merrifield for a 1-0 lead.

Kikuchi bore down and got out of the inning without giving up any more runs. He struck Kyle Schwarber out for his seventh K of the night, then induced pop flies from Alec Bohm and Harper.

Springer backed up Kikuchi’s resilience on the mound with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning. Merrifield led off Toronto’s half of the sixth with a single. Three batters later, Springer singled up the middle to drive in Merrifield and tie the game 1-1.

Toronto loaded the bases in the eighth inning when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drew a one-out walk, joining pinch hitter Nathan Lukes and Merrifield on the bases.

Springer hit into a fielder’s choice with Bohm at third base throwing out Lukes at home. A video review confirmed that Lukes was out, drawing massive boos from the sold-out Rogers Centre crowd of 42,615.

Apparently rattled but the boisterous crowd or the pressure of the bases-loaded situation, Dominguez’s next pitch clipped Biggio on the top of his lead foot to push Merrifield across the plate for a 2-1 Toronto lead.

Romano returned to action in the ninth after his lengthy stint on the injured list. He induced a fly ball from Bohm to leadoff the inning then struck Harper out swinging. He then whiffed Castellanos for the final out of the game.

CHAPMAN STILL OUT — Espinal started at third base with Matt Chapman still recovering from an inflamed right middle finger. Chapman hurt it about two hours before Sunday’s 11-4 win over the Chicago Cubs when he pinched his finger between a dumbbell and the weight rack.

ON DECK — Kevin Gausman (9-6) gets the start for Toronto in the second game of its two-game series with Philadelphia on Wednesday.

The Phillies will counter with Aaron Nola (9-8). 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 15, 2023.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press