ATLANTA (AP) — With Bobby Cox in the house, the Atlanta Braves found instant extra motivation.
Josh Donaldson and Johan Camargo hit two-run homers and Mike Soroka snapped a streak of eight starts without a win as the Braves beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 on Monday.
The NL East-leading Braves have won five straight, all against American League teams. The Braves also have won nine straight home games.
Cox, the Hall of Fame manager, made his first return to SunTrust Park since suffering a stroke on April 3. He sat in a private box to watch both teams he once managed.
Braves manager Brian Snitker visited with Cox and his wife, Pam, before the game.
“I was talking to Pam and she’s like, ‘You better win today,'” Snitker said before smiling and adding: “Real pressure.”
Cox, 78, smiled and waved in response to an ovation from fans when he was shown on the video board under a message that read “Welcome Home.”
“He looks great to me,” Snitker said. “I saw him walking around. … It was true, too, when they welcomed him home. It’s like home to him and he feels like he belongs, and he does.”
Soroka was on the mound to start the second inning when he saw Cox’s wave.
“That was awesome,” Soroka said. “I looked up there and I had to take a moment. He’s had some battles of his own. He’s the Brave of all Braves. We love to see him up there.”
Soroka (11-3), who is from Calgary, Alberta, allowed three runs on five hits in five innings in his first win in three starts against Toronto. It was his first victory since July 14 at San Diego, though he had a solid 2.81 ERA in his eight-game winless stretch.
Mark Melancon threw a perfect ninth inning for his ninth save.
The first-inning homer by Donaldson was the only hit allowed by Jacob Waguespack (4-3) in four innings. The right-hander was hurt by five walks.
Waguespack loaded the bases with three walks in the third before third baseman Brandon Drury mishandled Dansby Swanson’s grounder. The grounder hit off Drury’s glove into the outfield grass as Ozzie Albies and Donaldson scored.
“I thought my misses were close today,” Waguespack said. “I guess you’ve got to throw more strikes. I can’t put my bullpen in that position. That third inning, that can’t happen.”
After Toronto cut Atlanta’s lead to 4-3, Camargo hit a pinch-hit homer off Buddy Boshers in the eighth. The homer drove in Donaldson, who reached on Bo Bichette’s fielding error.
Randal Grichuk led off the fourth with a homer off Soroka, and pinch-hitter Rowdy Tellez added another homer for the Blue Jays in the fifth. It marked the first time in 30 career starts that Soroka allowed more than one home run in a game.
The Blue Jays reinstated left-hander Clayton Richard (left lat strain) from the 10-day IL. The team also recalled left-hander Thomas Pannone from Triple-A Buffalo.
ERROR, ERROR, ERROR
The Blue Jays had three errors that led to three unearned runs. “Most of the time when you do that against good teams, you’re just not going to win,” said Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo.
LOOKING AT .500
With 11 losses in its last 14 games, Toronto (55-84) is a season-low 29 games under .500. Atlanta (85-54) is a season-high 31 games over .500.
Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (4-5, 5.59 ERA) will make his fourth career start against Toronto when the two-game series ends on Tuesday night. Right-hander Wilmer Font will be Toronto’s opener.
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