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Kieboom and Ruiz homer for Nationals, who hang on for 5-4 win over Blue Jays

TORONTO — Missed opportunities proved costly for the Blue Jays in a 5-4 loss to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday that delivered another blow to Toronto's wild-card chances.
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Jose Berrios (17) reacts as Washington Nationals' Keibert Ruiz (20) rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run during fifth inning MLB baseball action in Toronto on Tuesday, August 29, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO — Missed opportunities proved costly for the Blue Jays in a 5-4 loss to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday that delivered another blow to Toronto's wild-card chances.

Down by two in the ninth inning, Toronto loaded the bases with nobody out but could only get one run across.

Kyle Finnegan got cleanup hitter Danny Jansen to pop up with runners in scoring position to end it as the Blue Jays fell 3 1/2 games out of a playoff spot.

"You get the dudes up that you want and it didn't work out," said Toronto manager John Schneider.

Washington's Carter Kieboom hit a two-run shot in the second inning off Toronto starter Jose Berrios and Keibert Ruiz added a three-run blast in the fifth.

Davis Schneider homered for the Blue Jays (72-61), who have dropped five of their last seven games.

"Tonight was on me," Berrios said. "Two homers and five runs. I don't feel happy about it."

The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros won their games to remain in a virtual tie for the last two wild-card spots and move another game up on Toronto.

"We all know that every loss and every win is at a premium right now," John Schneider said. "Every loss sucks but it's a quick turnaround so we've got to be ready to roll tomorrow."

Cavan Biggio and Kevin Kiermaier kicked off the bottom of the ninth inning with singles ahead of a George Springer walk.

Finnegan responded by striking out Schneider and getting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on an RBI groundout. Jansen worked a full count before flying out in foul territory.

The Nationals (62-71) won for the sixth time in nine games. It was Finnegan's 25th save of the season.

"He’s ice," said Nationals manager Dave Martinez. "He really is."

Washington starter MacKenzie Gore (7-10) allowed one earned run and six hits over five innings. He had two walks and two strikeouts.

With Dominic Smith on board after a single, Kieboom turned on a first-pitch sinker for his third homer of the season. Schneider halved the lead with his sixth home run of the year.

In the fifth, Berrios (9-10) was a strike away from a scoreless frame but Joey Meneses singled on a full-count pitch to put runners on the corners. Ruiz followed with his 16th homer of the season.

Berrios gave up five earned runs and six hits over his six-inning appearance. He had two strikeouts and walked a pair.

"I thought he was all right," John Schneider said. "It was just a couple fastballs that got away from him."

Washington's Jacob Young recorded his first big-league hit with a bunt single in the seventh inning against Bowden Francis. 

The Blue Jays brought the potential tying run to the plate in the eighth. Whit Merrifield moved to third base on an Alejandro Kirk double and later scored on a wild pitch.

Kirk — likely the slowest Blue Jay on the roster — took third base and tried to score on pinch-hitter Daulton Varsho's flyout to centre field. 

Young's throw was on target and Ruiz made the tag for the inning-ending double-play.

"Helping the team win like that is something I’ll never forget for my first assist," Young said.

Announced attendance at Rogers Centre was 39,722. The game took two hours 55 minutes to play.


Recent call-up Ernie Clement started at shortstop for Toronto after Bo Bichette was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right quadriceps muscle strain.

Bichette's second IL stint this month came a day after third baseman Matt Chapman went on the 10-day list with a finger injury. 

Santiago Espinal started at third base for the Blue Jays. 


The teams will close out the three-game series Wednesday with a mid-afternoon matchup. 

Right-hander Chris Bassitt (12-7, 4.00 earned-run average) is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays against left-hander Patrick Corbin (9-11, 4.70).


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 29, 2023. 

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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press