TORONTO (AP) — Kevin Gausman pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings to win back-to-back starts for the first time this season, Bo Bichette and Matt Chapman both homered and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 on Thursday.
Gausman (4-3) struck out 11, giving him 100 on the season and reclaiming the AL lead from Angels right-hander Shohei Ohtani (90). Gausman allowed five hits and walked two.
“He was awesome,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. “I mean, he was lights out.”
Gausman has struck out 10 or more a major-league leading five times in his 12 starts.
“That’s a pretty ridiculous pace,” Schneider said. “It’s a testament to him, how he takes care of himself.”
Erik Swanson retired all four batters he faced and Jordan Romano finished for his 13th save in 16 chances.
The Brewers have lost five of seven.
Bichette and Chapman both connected off Brewers right-hander Freddy Peralta (5-5) in a three-run first inning as Toronto opened June on a winning note after going 11-17 in May.
Bichette got it started with a solo drive to center, his team-leading 12th. Three batters later, Chapman hit a two-run blast, his eighth.
“That put us in a big hole against a really good pitcher,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier made a sensational diving catch on the warning track for the final out of the second inning, laying out for Andruw Monasterio’s deep drive. Backing up the play, right fielder George Springer raised his arms in celebration at the highlight reel catch by the three-time Gold Glove award winner.
“He just has that mentality to go after it and go get it,” an appreciative Gausman said. “I told him after the game ‘It looked like you had no chance to get to that from my vantage point.’ Then he just kind of came out of nowhere and made the play.”
Kiermaier nearly made another great catch in the ninth, but couldn’t come up with Rowdy Tellez’s inning-opening triple. After William Contreras walked, Tellez scored on Brian Anderson’s double-play grounder.
After giving up a leadoff double in the second, Peralta retired the next nine batters in order. He set down 14 of the final 16 batters he faced.
“They took very good ABs against me in the first inning but I was able to manage it a little bit,” Peralta said.
Peralta allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, his second straight losing decision.
Blue Jays batters didn’t strike out, walk, or hit a home run in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss, just the third time in team history that’s happened, and the first since 1979. In contrast, Toronto did all three in the first inning Thursday. After Bichette and Chapman homered, Cavan Biggio drew a two-out walk but Kiermaier struck out to end the inning.
Gausman ended the sixth by striking out Anderson with a 99.3 mph fastball. It was the fastest pitch Gausman has thrown this season, and his fastest since a 99.3 fastball on Aug. 9, 2020.
IT’S A BEAST
Milwaukee is 3-6 against AL East opponents.
Brewers: RHP Corbin Burnes (4-4, 3.68) starts Friday as Milwaukee opens a three-game series at Cincinnati. LHP Brandon Williamson (0-0, 5.02) starts for the Reds.
Blue Jays: RHP Chris Bassitt (5-4, 3.80) faces his former team Friday as Toronto begins a three-game series in New York against the Mets and RHP Justin Verlander (2-2, 4.80).
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