Braves blow ninth-inning lead as Blue Jays sweep in Toronto

The Canadian Press photo by Frank Gunn via AP / Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson walks off the field as Danny Jansen celebrates after hitting a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a 6-5 win on Sunday. Toronto swept the three-game series.

TORONTO — The suddenly slumping Atlanta Braves can't head home just yet, but their six-game road swing is at least about to grant them a change of scenery

For now, they've surely seen enough of Canada — and the Rogers Centre in particular.

Danny Jansen hit a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday afternoon as the Toronto Blue Jays rallied to beat Atlanta 6-5, completing a three-game sweep and handing the Braves their fourth straight loss overall. Atlanta (25-15), which at 15-16 away from Truist Park still has MLB's best road record this season, will begin a three-game series against the Texas Rangers on Monday in Arlington.

George Springer hit a solo home run for the Blue Jays (24-16), who are 12-3 at home this season.

"This team's resilient," Jansen said. "We're looking to win every game, and we believe that we can with the bats and the staff we have."

With Toronto trailing 5-4, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. thought he tied the game to begin the ninth, pumping his fist as he watched his deep drive to right, but he was held to a single when the ball hit the wall. The Blue Jays loaded the bases with two outs before Jansen singled to left field off Raisel Iglesias (1-1), driving in Guerrero and Matt Chapman.

"We had an opportunity to win the game and we couldn't close the deal," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It's frustrating, but this game is frustrating."

The Braves have lost five of their past eight games, although they remain solidly in first place in the National League East Division, where they are the five-time reigning champions. The Blue Jays won 3-0 on Friday and 5-2 on Saturday to set up the chance at a sweep that the Braves were so close to avoiding.

"Tough one to swallow," Atlanta third baseman Austin Riley said.

Nate Pearson (1-0) worked one inning for the win.

Ozzie Albies hit a two-run home run and Ronald Acuña Jr. and Kevin Pillar each added solo blasts for Atlanta, which has lost nine straight meetings with Toronto.

"Winning against a team like that three games in a row is really hard," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said.

The Braves made three errors and the Blue Jays had two defensive miscues, both by Gold Glove third baseman Chapman. Toronto pitchers also made a pair of wild pitches.

  photo  The Canadian Press photo by Frank Gunn via AP / Atlanta Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies, right, falls after colliding with right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. after trying to catch a pop fly hit during the second inning of Sunday's road loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. At left is center fielder Michael Harris II.

Snitker said he didn't realize how windy it was on the field until he came out to replace right-hander Collin McHugh in the second.

Pillar, who played with Toronto from 2013 until 2019, agreed that the conditions were "difficult" Sunday, when the domed stadium's roof was open.

"You don't feel a lot of the wind at ground level, it's kind of up higher when those balls get up there," Pillar said. "The ball was moving all over the place."

Acuña homered on left-hander Yusei Kikuchi's third pitch of the game, the 28th leadoff homer of his MLB career and his eighth homer overall this season, and Michael Harris II made it 2-0 with an RBI single in the second.

Toronto responded with three runs in the bottom half as Brandon Belt hit an RBI single and Guerrero's base hit drove in a pair of runs.

Albies connected in the third, his 10th homer of the season. Pillar made it 5-3 in the fourth against his former team when he hit his fourth homer of the season, but Springer cut the Blue Jays' deficit to one when he answered in the bottom half with a solo drive to left, his fifth homer of the year.

McHugh made his first start of the season for the Braves, whose rotation is dealing with the absence of Max Fried and Kyle Wright as they face extended stints on the injured list. McHugh gave up three runs and six hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Kikuchi allowed five runs (four earned) and nine hits in four innings, getting pulled after giving up a leadoff single to Riley in the fifth.

Acuña reached base four times and scored twice. He ended the game leading the NL in hits (54), total bases (90), runs scored (36) and stolen bases (17).

Pillar got a standing ovation before he batted in the second, his first at-bat of the series and first appearance in Toronto since April 24, 2019, with the San Francisco Giants. Pillar, 34, is in his first season with the Braves. He played for the Toronto Blue Jays for his first six-plus seasons in the majors before spending time with the Giants, Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers.

"It's definitely really special to come back that many years later and to be remembered and to be appreciated," Pillar said. "It was overwhelming."

Veteran right-hander Charlie Morton (4-3, 3.32) is Atlanta's scheduled starter Monday against the Rangers, who will counter with right-hander Dane Dunning (3-0, 1,72).