ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — David Price had a three-run lead before he even took the mound at Angel Stadium, and it was more than he needed to keep the Toronto Blue Jays rocketing up the AL standings.
Price struck out nine during eight innings of six-hit ball, and Josh Donaldson drove in three runs in the Blue Jays' 9-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer and Ben Revere had four hits for the Blue Jays, who opened a weekend meeting of the AL wild card leaders with their 17th victory in 21 games.
Price (12-4) was better than he needed to be while picking up his third victory in four starts for the Blue Jays, who acquired the former Cy Young winner for the pennant race. After his teammates batted around in a 30-minute, three-run rally in the top half of the first, Price didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning.
"I was prepared to sit in there for an hour," Price said of the opening frame. "To get a three-run lead before you throw your first pitch, that's great."
The Jays needed just 11 hits to score nine runs for the major league-leading 21st time this season while boosting their lead in the wild card standings to four games over Los Angeles. Even better, the win by Toronto (67-55) and the Yankees' (67-54) loss to Cleveland trimmed New York's lead in the AL East to a half-game.
"We've got our eyes on the people in front of us," Price said. "I don't know who's behind us."
Kole Calhoun homered for the Angels, who stayed in the second wild card spot despite their eighth loss in 12 games.
Price retired 10 straight between Mike Trout's first-inning walk and C.J. Cron's leadoff double in the fifth. Cron scored on Chris Iannetta's double down the first-base line, but Price pitched out of that jam before striking out five Angels in the next two innings.
"When you have your go-to guy on the mound and you get three early runs, he was in cruise mode from there," Revere said after his second four-hit game of the year. "(Price) gets that edge. You look in his eyes, and he's all about his game."
Angels All-Star Hector Santiago was chased in the fourth inning for his shortest start of the season. He walked four in the first inning before Toronto scored two runs on Shane Victorino's first error in two years.
"I was trying to hit too many spots, and when you try to make too many good pitches, you start missing," Santiago said. "My mechanics weren't there, and I just wasn't driving the ball the way I've been doing it. I don't think their lineup had any effect on what I did. For the most part, I think my career numbers against those guys are better than theirs are against me. I just kind of fell apart."
Santiago (7-7) couldn't come back from a 48-pitch first inning. He walked four of his first six batters, including Russell Martin with the bases loaded. Victorino then failed to catch Kevin Pillar's low, playable liner to left, allowing two more runs to score.
Donaldson chased Santiago with an RBI double in the fourth. He drilled another run-scoring double off the wall in the eighth for his 94th RBI of the season, prompting chants of "M-V-P!" from the Canadian fans at the Big A.
Trout, the reigning AL MVP, went 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts, dropping his August batting average to .183.
Victorino, the four-time Gold Glove winner recently acquired by Los Angeles, hadn't made an error in 113 games since Aug. 14, 2013. He was then given another error on a throw to the plate in the ninth. He has never committed more than three errors in an entire season during his major league career.
Smoak connected for his 12th homer in the seventh inning, one pitch after Angels second baseman Ryan Jackson just missed an easily catchable pop fly. That mistake allowed Edwin Encarnacion to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 17 games. Cron also dropped an earlier popup for an error.
Blue Jays: Russell Martin played despite recurring left hamstring pain.
Angels: 2B Johnny Giavotella was sent home with an illness. ... 3B David Freese starts a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday in his comeback from a broken finger.
Blue Jays: Marco Estrada (10-7, 3.20 ERA) takes the mound.
Angels: Rookie Andrew Heaney (5-1, 2.43 ERA) has yielded more than two runs just once in his 10 starts this season.