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Martin blasts Jays past Rays to avoid sweep

Manager John Gibbons’ ejection turned into a key moment for the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.

Russell Martin hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth inning to help the Blue Jays overcome a poor start by 17-game winner J.A. Happ and avoid a three-game sweep with a 5-3 win against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Gibbons was ejected by plate umpire Pat Hoberg after Martin struck out in the fourth. When Martin turned a couple times to dispute the call while walking toward the dugout, Gibbons took over the argument from the dugout and got tossed.

“Took the heat for everybody,” Martin said. “I think he kept some guys in the game doing that, including myself.”

Toronto began the day in a tie for the AL East lead with Boston, which lost to Oakland later Sunday, to give the Blue Jays a one-game lead in the division.

Martin hit his 17th homer on a 3-0 pitch from Kevin Jepsen (2-6). He has gone deep nine times and driven in 24 runs over his last 18 games.

“If he’s seeing the ball good, which I thought he was, I gave the approval for him to take a whack at it,” said bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who filled in for Gibbons.

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