AP Baseball Writer
TORONTO — Marco Estrada came up with a superb start in the most important outing of his career, stopping the Royals’ hit parade and helping the Toronto Blue Jays send the AL Championship Series back to Kansas City.
Estrada pitched one-hit ball into the eighth inning, giving Toronto’s tattered bullpen a rest, and the Blue Jays beat the Royals 7-1 Wednesday to close to 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
Troy Tulowitzki broke open the game with a three-run double off Kelvin Herrera in the sixth, giving him seven RBIs in the series. Edwin Encarnacion had walked with the bases loaded against Edinson Volquez, who seemed flustered by close calls against the Royals.
Estrada faced the minimum 20 batters before Lorenzo Cain walked with two outs in the seventh. Closer Roberto Osuna was perfect in the ninth.
Yordano Ventura will start for the defending AL champions on Friday in Game 6 against David Price, the Game 2 loser.
Estrada, a 32-year-old right-hander, enabled his bullpen to rest, a day after Kansas City romped 14-2 in a game that saw infielder Cliff Pennington pitch in the ninth.
Toronto is trying to become just the 13th team in 80 who trailed 3-1 in best-of-seven postseason series and rallied to win. It has happened four of 17 times in the LCS, including when the Royals bounced back against the Blue Jays in 1985 en route to Kansas City’s only World Series title. In this year’s best-of-five Division Series, Toronto lost the first two games before winning three straight against Texas.
Before 49,325 roaring fans, Chris Colabello’s solo homer into the left-field seats in the second gave Estrada a lead. It was the only mistake for Volquez, the Game 1 winner,.
Estrada didn’t make a miscue until Salvador Perez homered with two outs in the eighth. Estrada retired his first nine batters, ending Escobar’s record streak of leading off playoff games with hits at four.
Escobar, who entered 9 for 15 (.600), got Kansas City’s first hit when he opened the fourth with a ground single past a diving Tulowitzki at shortstop.
Zobrist promptly grounded into a double play to second baseman Ryan Goins.
Kansas City had no other runners until Cain walked with two outs in the seventh. Price got up in the bullpen after that free pass, but Estrada got Eric Hosmer to fly out.
Volquez allowed just two singles after Colabello connected, but lost the strike zone in the sixth.
Ben Revere led off with a walk and Volquez hit Josh Donaldson with the first pitch. In August, Volquez hit Donaldson in a testy game that included a benches-clearing scrum.
He walked Jose Bautista in a nine-pitch at-bat on a pitch that looked to get a piece of the plate.
“I thought the pitch to Bautista was definitely a strike,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Encarnacion walked on another pitch that upset Volquez and manager Ned Yost. Volquez turned his back to plate umpire Dan Iassogna as Revere jogged home for a 2-0 lead. It was his last batter.
Herrera relieved and struck out Colabello. With the crowd chanting “Tu-lo! Tu-lo!” Tulowitzki homered to send fans into a towel-waving frenzy.
Bautista and Donaldson had consecutive doubles off Danny Duffy in the seventh to make it 6-0, and Kevin Pillar doubled in a run in the eighth.