Jays swept away

Brett Cecil is running out of starts this season and he’ll want to finish up with some performances better than the one he delivered Thursday night.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Brett Cecil after committing an error during third inning action against the Boston Red Sox in Toronto on Thursday.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Brett Cecil after committing an error during third inning action against the Boston Red Sox in Toronto on Thursday.

Red Sox 8 Blue Jays 1

TORONTO — Brett Cecil is running out of starts this season and he’ll want to finish up with some performances better than the one he delivered Thursday night.

The rookie lefty served up a pair of home runs to J.D. Drew, was battered for six runs in all, and made a silly error to boot as the Toronto Blue Jays were spanked 8-1 by the Boston Red Sox, who completed a three-game sweep.

Cecil (5-2) hadn’t pitched since leaving an Aug. 8 outing with irritation in his left knee and made his return against the only big-league team to have beaten him this year. And just like they did the last time — when they hit five homers against him May 20 at Boston, four in the sixth inning — the Red Sox knocked him around.

Drew homered in the third to tie the game 1-1, and again in the fourth, a two-run shot that made it a 4-1 contest. That blast came shortly after Cecil advanced Jason Bay of Trail, B.C., from first to third with a bizarre gaffe, when he threw a scuffed up ball into the dugout without time being called. Bay scored two batters later on Mike Lowell’s single.

“I wasn’t even thinking about timeout being called, saw a scuff mark or some dirt on the ball, went to throw it in, I wanted a new ball, and just turned around and chucked it,” said Cecil. “I was definitely upset about it, it’s nobody’s fault but my own.”

Cecil didn’t survive the fifth and was charged with a pair of unearned runs as Dustin Pedroia scored when John McDonald threw away a Bay grounder, and Kevin Youkilis came in on David Ortiz’s RBI groundout.

The 23-year-old left having allowed six hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings, and has three starts remaining before he hits his innings cap. While he has often impressed, a strong finish would reflect well on him moving forward.

There are no guarantees for any of the Blue Jays’ kids in 2010 save for Ricky Romero, who manager Cito Gaston said is pretty much a lock for next year’s rotation. The remaining outings for Cecil and fellow rookie lefty Mark Rzepczynski are basically learning experiences.

Finishing strong also needs to be theme for the Blue Jays (55-64) as a whole, as they looked rather lacklustre in dropping their fifth straight before a crowd of 22,817. Right now they look like a team that will make a run at Baltimore for last in the American League East.