TORONTO — First baseman Justin Smoak is getting a chance to be an everyday player with the Toronto Blue Jays this season.
He's starting to show the team may have made a wise decision to give him more playing time.
Smoak homered and drove in four runs to power the Blue Jays to a 7-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night at Rogers Centre. Steve Pearce added a three-run shot and Marco Estrada threw six effective innings as Toronto won for the fourth time in five games.
Smoak's seventh-inning solo shot gave him a share of the team lead with six homers. He also leads the Blue Jays with 21 RBIs this season.
"I think consistency, just being in there more," Smoak said when asked what's different this year. "Really knowing you're going to be in there when you show up to the park every day."
It was his first four-RBI game since August 2015 at New York.
Estrada gave up a two-run shot to Nelson Cruz in the first inning before settling into a groove. He gave up only four hits and had eight strikeouts while walking three.
"I feel like I've done it a million times," Estrada said. "That first inning gives me a little grief at times. I don't know what happens. Then all of a sudden I just kind of turned things around."
The Blue Jays scratched out a run in the first inning and then struck for five more against Seattle starter Chase De Jong (0-3) in the fifth, capped by Pearce's fourth homer of the season.
"It kind of got away from us pretty quickly there," De Jong said. "The walks hurt."
It was the third career start for the Seattle right-hander, who walked three and allowed six earned runs and seven hits with one strikeout.
The Blue Jays outhit the Mariners 9-6 in the opener of the four-game series. It was Estrada's sixth quality start of the season.
"The guy just knows how to pitch," Smoak said. "You know he's going to keep us in the game even if he gives up two (runs), or gives up three or four. He's going to give us a chance to win the ballgame."
Toronto (14-21) improved to 3-1 on its nine-game homestand. The Mariners (17-18) had their four-game winning streak come to an end.
Smoak, 30, signed a two-year contract extension last summer. With Edwin Encarnacion's off-season departure as a free agent, Smoak has moved up in the batting order and had most of the starts at first base.
His batting average rose to .273 after his three-hit performance. Smoak hit .217 in a limited role last season.
Aaron Loup, Jason Grilli and Leonel Campos threw one inning of scoreless relief apiece for Toronto. Announced attendance was 29,120 and the game took two hours 45 minutes to play.
Notes: The Blue Jays placed left-hander Francisco Liriano on the 10-day disabled list due to shoulder inflammation and recalled Campos from triple-A Buffalo. ... The Mariners claimed right-hander Casey Lawrence off waivers Thursday. He was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on Monday. ... Toronto right-hander Joe Biagini (0-1, 2.78) is scheduled to start Friday night against Seattle's Christian Bergman (0-0, 2.45). ... Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano (quadriceps) was a late scratch from the lineup. He was replaced at second base by Mike Freeman. ... Darwin Barney replaced Chris Coghlan at third base in the eighth inning. Coghlan was hit in the hand by a pitch in the sixth.
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