Yusei Kikuchi; Blue Jays Complete Sweep, Beat Diamondbacks 7-5

Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, right, fails to reach home before Arizona Diamondbacks’ Nick Ahmed (13) steals it during second-inning baseball game action in Toronto, Sunday, July 16, 2023.

TORONTO (AP) — Danny Jansen hit a three-run double in the eighth inning to give Toronto what turned out to be an important cushion, and the Blue Jays beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-5 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Kevin Kiermaier and Santiago Espinal each had two hits and an RBI and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. broke a 2-all tie with a sacrifice fly in the fifth as Toronto picked up its sixth sweep of the season and won for the eighth time in nine games.

“We definitely clicked this series, one way or another,” Jansen said.

The Blue Jays are an MLB-best 19-7 in interleague play. Toronto moved to 53-41, a season-best 12 games over .500, but still trails first-place Tampa Bay by six games and second-place Baltimore by five in the stout AL East.

Arizona was swept for the second time this season. The Diamondbacks have lost four straight and 10 of 14 to fall into third in the NL West, one-half game behind San Francisco.

“We’re not happy with what’s going on,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “We’re just not playing up to our capabilities.”

The Diamondbacks are 2-7 against AL East opponents.

“It’s obviously an unfamiliar feeling for us,” third baseman Evan Longoria said of Arizona’s recent slump. “We’ve played really well up to this point.”

Jansen’s bases-clearing double off Scott McGough in the eighth made it 6-2, and he later scored on pinch-hitter Daulton Varsho’s infield single.

Arizona made it exciting in the ninth. After Mitch White walked the bases loaded, Ketel Marte cut it to 7-5 with a three-run double off Erik Swanson. Swanson then retired Emmanuel Rivera for his second save in three chances.

Jay Jackson (2-0) relieved Yusei Kikuchi with two outs in the fifth and retired all three batters he faced. Tim Mayza got one out, Trevor Richards worked the seventh and Yimi García pitched the eighth.

The Diamondbacks had runners at first and second in the seventh when catcher Jansen picked off Jake McCarthy at first to end the inning. McCarthy was also picked off at first by pitcher Nate Pearson in the seventh inning of Saturday’s loss.

“We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times,” Lovullo said. “We just didn’t execute on the mound. We gave up some more outs on the bases, and that’s not who we are. We’ve got to get back to doing our job.”

Arizona’s Tommy Henry (5-2) lost for the first time since May 11 against San Francisco, snapping a 10-start unbeaten streak. The left-hander allowed three runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.

“I don’t think I executed to the level that I expect to,” Henry said.

Henry departed after Bo Bichette’s single put runners at first and third in the fifth. Guerrero greeted right-hander Kevin Ginkel with a first-pitch sacrifice fly.

Arizona scored single runs in each of the first two innings against Kikuchi. His errant pickoff throw and Kiermaier’s bobble in center field allowed Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to score from second base in the first.

Nick Ahmed scored on Kikuchi’s wild pitch in the second, but Toronto tied it in the bottom half when Espinal hit an RBI double and scored on Kiermaier’s single.