“That was a lot of fun today,” Bieber said. “I thought we brought the right energy in from the get-go.”
Rosario went 3-for-4 with a walk, two RBI and three runs scored. Owen Miller had double doubles and Austin Hedges led in a double as the AL Central captains won for the seventh time in eight games. Cleveland’s season-high six-game winning streak ended in Saturday’s 2-1 loss.
Pepper (8-6) allowed two runs and eight hits, equaling a four-game winning streak from June 17 to July 3, 2018. He struck out nothing and struck out six.
“I thought that was his best fastball this year,” said coach Terry Francona.
Pepper pitched better against Toronto than starting at home against the Blue Jays in May when he allowed seven runs, matching his career worst.
“They say you’re trying to have a short-term memory but it’s not really realistic,” Bieber said. “I was thinking about that and was looking forward to today’s outing because of that. I was happy to get the win today.”
Trevor Stefan scored twice in the eighth and Emmanuel Klass finished.
Toronto lost two of three to Cleveland and scored just four runs in the series. The Blue Jays struck out three in the first inning but scored one run, stranding runners on second and third. They have lost six of eight overall.
Blue Jays right fielder Kevin Gusman, named Player of the Week last week after pitching 14 scoreless innings in first starts at Tampa Bay and Minnesota, couldn’t keep his streak at home. Rosario continues for a one-off run on the eighth homer’s first out.
Gausman (8-9) allowed five runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings pitched. walked one and struck out five.
“They’ve done a good job of ramping up my number of shows,” said Gusman.
A wild pitch cost Guzman in the fifth, allowing Rosario to advance into scoring position and come home on Josh Naylor’s single. The Blue Jays also made an errant throw to Tyler Freeman’s stolen base attempt in the fourth, and on the next play, right fielder Cavan Biggio couldn’t reach Hedges’ fly ball down the line. The ball fell for an RBI double.
Teoscar Hernández tied it in the bottom inning with an RBI double, but Hedges made it 2-1 with an RBI single in the second, then doubled home in the fourth.
Naylor hit an RBI single in the fifth before Miller chased Gausman with an RBI double.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. cut the score to 5-2 with an RBI hammer in the fifth. Guerrero finished 0-for-4, ending his career hitting streak at 22. He grounded in the third to finish seventh, stranding runners on first and second.
“It’s kind of a situation you’re playing for, you’re playing for,” Bieber said of his confrontation with Guerrero.
Francona said he got nervous when Guerrero took the seventh strike.
“My heart was in my throat,” Francona said. “Out of respect for what Vlady can do, I was nervous. Biebs did a great job.”
Rosario and Jose Ramirez’s RBI singles hit Trent Thornton in the ninth.
Blue Jays: SS Beau Bechet (remaining) is out of the starting lineup. Bichette played 111 of Toronto’s 113 games. …RHB Ross Stripling (right hip) is expected to be taken off the injured list to start against Baltimore on Wednesday, giving RHP José Berríos extra rest.
Cleveland won nine of Pepper’s first 11 starts on the road.
Rosario has 14 of three games played this season, matching Minnesota’s Luis Arith for the lead.
Guardians: RHP Aaron Civale starts game one of a doubleheader at home Monday against Detroit. His opponent will be RHP Drew Hutchison (1-6, 4.45). Cleveland will promote RHP Xzavion Curry from Triple-A Columbus to start Game 2, with RHP Bryan Garcia (0-0, 2.35) for the Tigers.
Blue Jays: LHP Yusei Kikuchi (4-6, 5.13) starts Monday against Baltimore RHB Kyle Braddish (1-4, 6.42). Kikuchi is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two games against the Orioles this season.