ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Rougned Odor kept starting double plays for the Texas Rangers, then first baseman Mitch Moreland turned a nifty one that only delayed the big blow.
After Odor had big defensive plays in three consecutive innings, Troy Tulowitzki hit a three-run homer right after Moreland’s 3-2-3 double play in the sixth, and the Toronto Blue Jays went on to a 5-1 victory Sunday night that prevented the Rangers from sweeping the best-of-five AL Division Series.
“These guys did a really good job at limiting the damage, got the double-play balls when we needed them,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Really the big blow was, I think it was a changeup to Tulowitzki. … But the margin of error in these type of games is so slim that one pitch typically can get you, and that’s really was the story tonight.”
Leading the series 2-1, Texas has another chance Monday to clinch it at home. If not, a deciding Game 5 will be played Wednesday in Toronto, where the Rangers won the first two games.
“Every game in the playoffs you want to have that feeling of a must win, just for the simple fact that you want to really get after it and don’t get flat,” said Josh Hamilton, who snapped an 0-for-31 postseason slump with a fifth-inning single.
On way to its first World Series in 2010, Texas opened the ALDS by winning the first two games at Tampa Bay, before losing both home games and then having to beat the Rays on the road in the decisive fifth game.
The Rangers are 1-8 in ALCS games at home, and 8-5 on the road.
Marco Estrada limited the Rangers to one run and five hits over 6 1-3 innings, with four strikeouts and no walks.
Tulowitzki’s homer came in the sixth off reliever Chi Chi Gonzalez, two innings after Tulowitzki drew a bases-loaded walk. The shortstop missed most of the final three weeks of the regular season because of a cracked shoulder blade and bruised muscles in his upper back.
“Tulo needed that, he really did,” manager John Gibbons said. “Maybe that sets him off. … If he catches fire, we’re real dangerous.”
Texas left-hander Martin Perez, somewhat a surprise pick as the Game 3 starter over veterans Derek Holland and Colby Lewis, gave up four runs and six hits while pitching into the sixth.
Holland (4-3) starts Game 4 against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (11-11).
The Blue Jays had their leadoff hitter at second base to start each the third through fifth innings, a span that included the double plays started by Odor, whose grounder in the seventh produced the only Texas run.
Toronto started the sixth with consecutive singles to chase Perez, and Edwin Encarnacion then drew a 10-pitch walk from Gonzalez to load the bases.
Moreland then fielded Chris Colabello’s hard hopper, threw home for the first out and got back to the bag to take the return throw. Tulowitzki followed with his drive.