TORONTO -- — Bo Bichette homered and matched his career-high with five RBI, Robbie Ray fanned 13 over seven innings to claim the major league strikeout lead and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-3 Wednesday.
Vladimr Guerrero Jr. doubled twice and scored twice, and Teoscar Hernández added an RBI single. The Blue Jays improved to 13-2 in September to move ahead of Boston and the New York Yankees for the top AL wild card before those teams play later Wednesday.
“We’re showing everybody who we are,” Bichette said.
Tampa Bay lost for the fifth time in seven games. The AL East leaders are 6-8 in September after going 21-6 in August.
Ray (12-5) allowed one run and four hits to win his fourth straight decision. The left-hander is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 91 strikeouts since his last loss, July 21 against Boston.
“Early on, the fastball was electric,” Ray said. “I felt like it was getting on guys, I was able to pound guys with it.”
Ray allowed leadoff doubles in the second and fourth but didn’t allow a run until Mike Zunino homered to begin the fifth. The homer was Zunino’s 30th.
Ray left to a standing ovation after striking out Jordan Luplow to end the seventh. He raised his season total to 233 strikeouts, passing Yankees ace Gerrit Cole (224) and Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler (225).
“It’s tough to make an argument that that’s not the best fastball going right now in the American League,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said of Ray. “For the most part, he’s going to come at you with fastballs and pound the zone. And when it’s there, there’s really not a ton you can do with it.”
Ray didn’t walk a batter and threw 101 pitches, 75 strikes. He has struck out 10 or more batters in five of his past six outings. His 11.2 strikeouts per nine for his career are the most in major league history among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings.
Ray also lowered his AL-best ERA to 2.64.
Tampa Bay’s Brett Phillips cut it to 6-3 with a two-run home run off right-hander Joakim Soria in the eighth, his 12th. Right-hander Jordan Romano closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 18th save in 19 chances as the Jays took two of three.
“That’s one of the best teams in baseball,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “To keep doing what we’re doing, you’ve got to beat them.
“It was a great series. We did everything.”
After being shut out for only the third time this season Tuesday, the Blue Jays jumped on Rays right-hander Michael Wacha with a three-run first. Marcus Semien walked, Guerrero lashed a double to left and Bichette followed with his 25th home run.
No big league team has been held scoreless as few times as Toronto this season.
Bichette added a sacrifice fly in the third, and he and Hernández hit consecutive RBI singles in the fifth.
“Bichette did a lot of damage,” Cash said
Wacha (3-5) allowed six runs and seven hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out five.
“He really did a nice job of resetting in the second with a six-pitch inning and then his stuff kind of recalibrated,” Cash said.
Wacha has allowed a team-high 23 home runs this season.
RAY vs. THE RAYS
Ray has 46 strikeouts against the Rays this season, the most by a Toronto pitcher against one opponent in a single season. Drew Hutchison fanned 44 Orioles in 2014.
Bichette’s homer made him the fourth Blue Jays player with 25 home runs and 90 RBI, joining Guerrero, Semien and Hernández. It’s the first time in team history that’s happened, and the first time any team has done it since both Philadelphia and Minnesota did in 2009.
Players and coaches from both teams wore jersey number 21 on Roberto Clemente Day across baseball. Those doing so for Toronto included Puerto Rican manager Montoyo, and outfielder George Springer, whose mother is Puerto Rican.
Blue Jays RHP José Berríos said he pitched through soreness in his left side for at least three innings before being removed Tuesday but felt fine Wednesday and expects to make his next start.
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