Jays lose to Rays as Estrada struggles again

Rays 8 Blue Jays 1

TORONTO — The Blue Jays’ bid to get to .500 this season took another hit Tuesday night.

Tampa Bay rookie Jake Faria handcuffed Toronto over 6 1/3 innings and the Rays tormented Jays starter Marco Estrada en route to an 8-1 victory.

It marked Toronto’s sixth attempt this season (0-1, 1-2, 26-27, 27-28, 28-29, 31-32) to reach the .500 mark — for the first time.

“We will get there. Hopefully sooner rather than later,” said manager John Gibbons. “Of course, that’s frustrating. You keep climbing back and it was a battle to get back to that point to even get close.”

It was a third straight loss for Estrada, who had more hits than outs on his 3 1/3-inning pitching line. He gave up six earned runs on a career-high 12 hits in an 81-pitch outing fraught with peril.

“There’s no doubt, it was a tough night for him,” Gibbons said.

“Really Marco’s a pinpoint control guy, for the most part. I think that’s off for him right now. I thought he actually looked better in the early part of the game but they threw out a lot of hits on him …. He’ll work it out.”

Estrada has given up 17 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings in his last three starts, posting a 12.07 earned-run average.

And he has lost his last six outings against Tampa, including three this season.

“I felt pretty good out there,” Estrada said. “It’s unfortunate this went down this way. It sucks. I know I’ve been in a bit of a funk the last few outings but I’m not worried about it. I feel pretty good out there. I know things are going to change for me. They’ve had my number all year, I don’t know. It just sucks.”

Tampa (35-32) has won six of its last seven games. Toronto (31-33) saw its modest two-game win streak snapped before 39,404 on a glorious evening with the Rogers Centre roof open.

“That’s probably the most people I’ve ever thrown in front of in my life, so it’s cool to hear them getting after it, cheering,” said Faria (2-0). “It’s pretty fun.”

The 23-year-old becomes just the third Ray to win his first two career major-league games as a starter, joining Joe Kennedy (2001) and Jeremy Hellickson (2010).

“Just an outstanding effort by him … (I) thought it was a pretty challenging lineup to go face and he quieted a really good lineup,” said Tampa manager Kevin Cash.

Taylor Featherston, acquired from Philadelphia last Friday, and Logan Morrison homered in a four-run Tampa third inning that saw Estrada give up six hits and face nine batters.

The Jays, who slumped to an 8-17 start in April, went 18-10 in May and are 5-6 in June.

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