TORONTO — Nomar Mazara broke a tie with a solo home run as the Texas Rangers defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 on Monday in a rematch of last year's American League Division Series.
It was the first time the teams had met since the Blue Jays beat Texas last October in an emotionally-charged Game 5 to win the ALDS at Rogers Centre.
Mazara sent an 87 mile-per-hour cutter from Toronto reliever Gavin Floyd over the centre-field wall in the eighth inning to snap a 1-1 tie.
Brett Nicholas also hit a home run for the Rangers (15-11). Tony Barnette (1-1) earned the win while Shawn Tolleson got the save.
Michael Saunders drove in the lone run for the Blue Jays (12-15) while Kevin Pillar was 3-for-3. Floyd (0-2) shouldered the loss.
Texas starter A.J. Griffin struck out nine batters and gave up one run on three hits through six innings. R.A. Dickey pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run on six hits and three walks while striking out three in the no-decision.
The crowd of 25,323, significantly less than last October's marquee Game 5, was also much quieter — until the eighth inning when Sam Dyson, who allowed the towering homer to Jose Bautista in last year's deciding fifth game, came in to pitch.
Chants of "DY-SON, DY-SON," rained down from the stands along with thunderous applause when Dyson walked Saunders, the lead-off batter, then gave up a single to Josh Donaldson to set the table for Bautista, who anticlimactically flied out to right field.
Dyson followed that with a walk to Edwin Encarnacion, but escaped the inning with a 9-2 double play as Troy Tulowitzki flied out to Mazara and the Rangers right-fielder nailed Saunders at the plate.
Nicholas tagged Dickey with a solo shot to centre field to put Texas on the board in the third inning.
Ryan Goins and Tulowitzki flashed their defensive prowess later in third when they turned a highlight-reel double play. Goins made a running catch on a grounder from Mazara, then spun and threw to second while still in the air. Tulowitzki then sent a laser-like throw to first base to get Mazara and end the inning.
That seemed to spark the offence slightly as Pillar led off the bottom of the third with a double and came around to score on Saunders' base hit to tie the game.
Bad base-running cost the Rangers a run in the seventh. After loading the bases with one out, Dickey was replaced by Floyd, who got a fly-ball out from Rougned Odor. Delino DeShields tried to advance to second on the play but was tagged out as Mitch Moreland trotted home from third base.
The run initially counted but a Blue Jays challenge showed DeShields had been called out before Moreland crossed the plate. The double play ended the inning.
NOTES: The Blue Jays continue their four-game series against Texas on Tuesday night. Right-hander Marco Estrada (1-2, 2.92 earned run average) will start for Toronto. Lefty Martin Perez (1-2, 4.20) goes for the Rangers.
Melissa Couto, The Canadian Press