TORONTO (AP) Jonah Heim hit his third career grand slam, Evan Carter launched his first major league homer and the Texas Rangers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 10-4 on Monday night in the opener of a four-game series that could help decide the AL wild-card race.
Texas (79-64) closed within a half-game of Toronto (80-64) in the wild-card standings. The Blue Jays entered one game ahead of Seattle for the second American League wild card.
“Every game from here on out is important,” Heim said. “No matter who we’re playing or where we’re at, each and every game matters. We’re going to take them one game at a time and do everything we can to get the win.”
The Rangers won their third straight, their longest streak since a season-high eight-game run in early August. They reached their highest victory total since winning 95 games in 2016. Texas hasn’t finished with a winning record in any of the six seasons since.
Toronto’s Cavan Biggio hit a solo home run, his ninth, and drove in two, but the Blue Jays couldn’t prolong a three-game winning streak.
Dane Dunning (10-6) allowed three runs and six hits in six-plus innings, becoming the first Rangers starting pitcher to win since Jordan Montgomery beat the Angels on Aug. 15.
“I know our starting staff is really good. It’s really talented,” Dunning said. “Just trying to get the ball rolling again.”
Dunning walked three and struck out seven.
“He kept everybody off balance,” Heim said. “He was mixing and matching all his pitches.”
Chris Stratton, Martín Pérez and Ian Kennedy all worked one inning of relief.
Heim went 2 for 5 with five RBIs, hitting his second slam of the season off left-hander Génesis Cabrera in the seventh. The home run was Heim’s 16th.
“We need this guy,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s a big part of our club. When you look at our success, for the most part of the season he was right in the middle of it, and he was tonight.”
Carter tied the score 2-all with a leadoff shot into the second deck in right field in the third, connecting off Blue Jays right-hander Chris Bassitt.
“It was an unbelievable feeling,” Carter said. “Obviously, everybody dreams about that moment. Hopefully there’s going to be many more down the road.”
After Corey Seager’s two-out RBI single gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead in the fifth, Carter preserved the lead by throwing out Kevin Kiermaier at home plate in the bottom half. The speedy Kiermaier was trying to score from second base on George Springer’s single to left field.
“Big day by the kid,” Bochy said of Carter. “He had a good one today.”
The Blue Jays challenged plate umpire John Tumpane’s call, but it stood after a replay review.
Biggio started a unique double play at third base in the fifth. With runners at the corners, he fielded Marcus Semien’s grounder and tagged Josh H. Smith before he could return to third, then fired to first to get Semien.
Bochy said Smith should have made it harder for Biggio to tag him out.
“You don’t run back to the tag,” Bochy said. “Keep going home or get in a rundown. That was just a brain cramp on his part.”
Seager followed with his tiebreaking single.
“Corey picked us up there,” Bochy said.
Bassitt (14-8) allowed five runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out three.
“I was probably overthrowing a little bit too much,” Bassitt said. “I wasn’t locating and I wasn’t hitting my spots.”
Texas designated hitter Mitch Garver scored the first run in the second when Bassitt was called for a disengagement violation. Bassitt stepped off the rubber twice before leaving the mound and trying to chase Garver back to third base, but came up short.
Bochy praised Garver for his heads-up baserunning.
“He’s not one of my rabbits but he wreaked havoc out there,” Bochy said.
Blue Jays: Brandon Belt started at DH, his first appearance since Sept. 2 after missing time because of a sore back and an illness. Belt exited because of lower back spasms after striking out twice in two at-bats. Spencer Horwitz replaced Belt in the sixth. … RHP Erik Swanson (back) was activated off the 15-day injured list and RHP Jay Jackson was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.
Attendance was 23,451, the lowest for a Blue Jays home game this season.
Texas scored 10 or more runs for the 24th time, the most in the majors this season. The Rangers set a team record by scoring at least 10 runs 25 times in 2008.
WALK THIS WAY
Texas drew a season-high nine walks.
Toronto LHP Hyun Jin Ryu (3-2, 2.65 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday against Rangers RHP Max Scherzer (12-8, 3.91).
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