TORONTO (AP) — Christopher Morel hit a tiebreaking double in the ninth inning and the Chicago Cubs beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 on Saturday afternoon.
Dansby Swanson added a three-run home run as the Cubs (61-56) improved to 8-3 in August and won for the 18th time in 24 games.
Whit Merrifield hit a two-run home run, but Toronto (65-54) lost for the fourth time in five games after winning its previous four.
Chicago’s Cody Bellinger doubled off right-hander Jordan Hicks (1-7) to begin the ninth and came around to score what turned out the be the winning run on Morel’s one-out double to left field.
“Belli has been our most valuable player,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “That leadoff double was huge.”
Morel leads the Cubs with eighth RBI in the ninth inning this season.
“One through nine we have a really, really deep lineup,” Bellinger said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the heart of the order, the bottom of the order, we’ve got a bunch of guys that can get the job done.”
Former Blue Jays right-hander Julian Merryweather (4-0) worked one inning for the win and righty Adbert Alzolay finished for his 16th save in 17 chances.
“Julian has been kind of the stabilizer in our bullpen,” Ross said. “He’s just really been a guy that we can rely on.”
Bellinger went 2 for 4 with an RBI for the Cubs, who have won six of their past eight meetings with Toronto. Chicago is 9-5 against AL East opponents.
“Bellinger is probably the best hitter in the game for the last two months,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. “They’ve got power, they’ve got speed, they’ve got guys that are above average in a lot of different ways. They’re scoring a ton of runs right now. They’re a hot team.”
After Vladimir Guerrero Jr. opened the scoring with an RBI single in the third, Chicago replied with four runs in the fourth off Blue Jays right-hander Chris Bassitt. Nico Hoerner led off with a double and Ian Happ walked before Bellinger tied it with an RBI single.
Swanson followed with a second-deck home run, his 18th. The 429-foot homer was Swanson’s longest of the season.
Merrifield cut Chicago’s lead to 4-3 with a homer off left-hander Justin Steele in the fifth, his 11th, and Toronto tied it 4-all on Santiago Espinal’s two-out RBI double off Mark Leiter Jr. in the sixth.
Seeking to extend his career-best streak of four consecutive winning starts, Steele allowed three runs and six hits in five innings. He walked none and struck out seven.
“It looked like the slider had real depth today,” Ross said. “That’s as good as I’ve seen it in a little while. Looked sharp, velocity was back up.”
Bassitt allowed four runs and four hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out six.
Cubs: RHP Marcus Stroman (right hip) felt good one day after throwing around 50 pitches in a bullpen session and could return to the rotation Wednesday against the White Sox, Ross said.
Blue Jays: RHP Jordan Romano (back) allowed two hits in one scoreless inning in a rehab appearance at Triple-A Buffalo. Romano could rejoin the Blue Jays Tuesday. … Toronto put RHP Hagen Danner on the 15-day IL because of a strained left oblique and recalled RHP Nate Pearson from Triple-A. Danner had to leave his big league debut Friday after seven pitches.
An emotional José Bautista was joined by his family, as well as several former teammates, coaches and managers, for a pregame ceremony that saw him become the 11th person added to Toronto’s Level of Excellence. Bautista and fellow former slugger Edwin Encarnación received huge cheers from the sellout crowd of 42,585, as did former Toronto managers John Gibbons and Cito Gaston. Bautista threw out the first pitch to current Jays slugger and fellow Dominican star Guerrero.
NOT SO POPULAR
Fans booed Blue Jays chairman Edward Rogers when he was introduced as one of the guests at Bautista’s ceremony.
Guerrero, 24, reached 70 RBI for the third straight season. He’s the first player in Blue Jays history to drive in 70 or more three times before the age of 25.
LHP Hyun Jin Ryu (0-1, 4.00 ERA) starts as the Blue Jays seek to avoid a sweep in Sunday’s series finale. RHP Jameson Taillon (7-6, 5.17) goes for the Cubs. Taillon is 4-1 with a 3.19 ERA in six career starts in Toronto.
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