Chris Rowley backs Blue Jays vs. Pirates

TORONTO — A day after the Pirates beat the Blue Jays by taking advantage of several mistakes, Toronto returned the favor. The Jays capitalized on the Bucs’ misplays and made Chris Rowley a winner in his Major League debut, evening the series with a 7-2 victory on Saturday at Rogers Centre.

Rowley, a non-drafted free agent and West Point graduate less than two years removed from active duty with the United States Army, allowed one run on five hits over 5 1/3 innings in his first big league start. He left the game with a three-run lead and received a loud standing ovation from his home crowd. The Jays made the most of Pirates starter Trevor Williams‘ unsteady command and two errant throws by Pittsburgh’s infielders as they scored two runs in the fifth and three more in the seventh.

Williams allowed only four hits and struck out seven over six innings, but he walked a career-high four batters and plunked two. Still, the Bucs stayed within striking distance until the seventh. With two on and one out, Mike Ohlman hit a grounder to third base. Josh Harrison tried to make the barehanded play but threw away the ball, allowing two runs to score. Ohlman wheeled around to third base and scored on Kevin Pillar‘s sacrifice fly.

After completing the climb back to .500 on Friday, the Bucs fell a game under and dropped 3 1/2 games behind the National League Central-leading Cubs. The Cubs are scheduled to play the D-backs in Phoenix later tonight.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hit-by-pitch and run: Both of the batters hit by Williams eventually came around to score. The Blue Jays capitalized on Williams’ shaky command in the second inning. Pillar was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame, took second base on Rob Refsnyder‘s single, moved another 90 feet on Jose Bautista‘s walk and scored when Williams walked Donaldson with a full count and the bases loaded. Donaldson fell behind Williams in the count, no balls and two strikes, then worked his way back to walk in the go-ahead run.

Taking advantage: After Bautista was hit by a pitch to lead off the fifth, Donaldson dropped a single in front of right fielder Gregory Polanco, who then left the game with an injured hamstring. Williams loaded the bases with a one-out walk to Steve Pearce then induced a potential double-play grounder from pinch-hitter Kendrys Morales. Shortstop Jordy Mercer flipped the ball to Adam Frazier for the first out, then Frazier made a low throw to first baseman Josh Bell. Bautista scored on the fielder’s choice, and Donaldson scored on Frazier’s error.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.