Valera scores on wild pitch in the eighth inning as Blue Jays edge White Sox 2-1

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TORONTO — For a scuffling Blue Jays team coming off a painful loss and fighting to stay in the American League wild-card race, the intensity of a four-game series opener against Chicago was evident Monday night at Rogers Centre.

There was Vladimir Guerrero Jr., delivering three fist pumps, two taps to the heart, a trapezius flex and an emphatic clap of the hands after driving in Toronto's first run.

There was Reese McGuire, hopping up to his feet with emotion after a head-first slide on his infield single put the leadoff runner on in the eighth inning. Breyvic Valera, who pinch-ran for McGuire, would score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch as the Blue Jays edged the White Sox 2-1 in a bounce-back effort after giving away a game a day earlier on a late error.

"That's how hard they want to win," said Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo. "That's the club that we have in there. They're giving you all they've got."

Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., earned his 12th save with a 1-2-3 ninth as the Blue Jays (65-58) handed the AL Central-leading White Sox (72-54) their third straight loss.

"It's a big series for us as well and to be able to go out there and set the pace for the rest of the week, I think it's pretty huge," said Toronto starter Alek Manoah.

Chicago starter Lance Lynn turned in a strong seven-inning effort but reliever Craig Kimbrel's control issues proved costly. In the eighth, Valera moved to second base on a wild pitch and took third when Marcus Semien grounded out.

Guerrero was intentionally walked before Kimbrel (2-4) threw a wild pitch to Teoscar Hernandez that hit the backstop and bounced back toward the batter's box. Catcher Seby Zavala one-handed the ball and flipped it to the plate but Valera beat Kimbrel's tag as both players slid in the dirt.

The White Sox challenged the decision but the call was upheld.

"It was one of those games again that we've been playing where there's no room for error and we did it right," Montoyo said.

Both starters turned in solid showings with each allowing a single run in the sixth inning. Manoah gave up five hits over six innings of work while Lynn, who trimmed his AL-leading earned-run average to 2.20, allowed four hits over seven frames.

Manoah allowed at least one runner to reach in every inning but Chicago couldn't put a big frame together against the rookie right-hander.

He issued back-to-back walks in the third inning before getting Jose Abreu to ground out on a full-count pitch. Chicago put two runners on again in the fourth but Manoah escaped when Danny Mendick lined out.

The White Sox finally put a run across in the sixth after three straight one-out singles. Andrew Vaughn's chopper up the middle brought Yoan Moncada home from third base before Manoah got out of the jam with two pop-ups to close his 108-pitch outing.

"I tell you what, this guy has got big cahunas," Montoyo said. "I'm telling you right now. That's why it's so easy to send him back out with 90-something pitches because he's going to give you all he's got."

McGuire led off with a double in the bottom of the sixth and ran for third on a Bo Bichette grounder but was thrown out by second baseman Cesar Hernandez. Bichette moved to second on a Semien groundout and scored on a single by Guerrero, who notched his 90th RBI of the season.

The Blue Jays, who are fourth in the AL East, sit 4 1/2 games behind Boston in the race for the second wild-card spot. Toronto was coming off a disappointing 5-3 loss in 11 innings to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.

Manoah allowed one earned run, five hits and three walks. He had five strikeouts and hit two batters.

Adam Cimber and Tim Mayza (3-1) each worked a scoreless inning of relief ahead of Romano. Lynn had four strikeouts, one wild pitch and didn't issue a walk.

Each team had five hits. Announced attendance was 14,640 and the game took two hours 44 minutes to play.

Notes: Manoah was on the bereavement list for a few days last week after his grandfather died. ... Blue Jays outfielder George Springer (knee) participated in some running drills and took live batting practice before the game. "He feels really good, which is a great sign," Montoyo said. Springer is eligible to return from the injured list on Wednesday but Montoyo said it's too early to say when he might be activated. ... The Blue Jays recalled outfielder Josh Palacios from triple-A Buffalo before the game, optioned left-hander Kirby Snead to the Bisons and released right-hander Elvis Luciano. ... Infielder Cavan Biggio suffered a left elbow injury while diving for a ball last weekend with the Bisons. A timeline for his return has not been finalized.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 23, 2021.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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