Rays 12 Blue Jays 7
TORONTO — Toronto ace RoyHalladay said it’s a matter of paying more attention to the little things that help him avoid giving up surprisingly big numbers like he did Monday night.
Halladay gave up 12 hits and eight runs in six innings as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Blue Jays 12-7.
“The bottom line is just not making good pitches,” Halladay said. “It’s part of it, especially late you have to be more attentive on doing the little things. That’s what I’ve got to do.”
The right-hander struggled for the second start in a row, charged with seven earned runs for the first time in more than two years as the Blue Jays squandered a second-inning grand slam by Rod Barajas before a crowd of 17,184 at the Rogers Centre.
Rookie Jeff Niemann (12-5) picked up the win after allowing eight hits, six runs and three walks in 6 1-3 innings.
Halladay (13-7) gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Pena, his 35th of the season, in the fifth to end a 6-6 tie, while Brandon League gave up Ben Zobrist’s 23rd homer of the season in the seventh.
Randy Ruiz hit his fourth homer for Toronto against Dan Wheeler in the eighth to pull the Blue Jays to within 9-7, but Shawn Camp gave up three runs in the ninth, two on a single by former Blue Jays catcher Gregg Zaun.
The previous time Halladay gave up seven earned runs in a game was June 5, 2007, also against Tampa Bay.
“You have these times where you struggle,” Halladay said, “and you’re searching a little bit but you have to find ways to get over it.”
In his loss last week to the Boston Red Sox, Halladay gave up four earned runs in five innings. On Monday he gave up three runs in the first inning, but Toronto bounced back to take the lead with five runs in the second as Barajas hit his 12th homer of the season and fourth career slam.
The Blue Jays took a 6-3 lead but Tampa Bay tied it in the fourth with three runs, two earned, as right-fielder Travis Snider was charged with an error on his throw to third.
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said Halladay didn’t get pitches where he wanted to.
“He just didn’t have a good night out there,” Gaston said. “It started off poorly for us and then we came back and scored five runs and everything looked pretty good up until that point.
“But then it certainly went the other way. It’s something that you don’t expect when Doc gets the lead like that, most of the times he’s able to hold on to it. Tonight he was not able to. You kind of saw two different games out there tonight.”
Jason Bartlett led off the game with a single, was forced at second by Carl Crawford who moved to second on Evan Longoria’s single and scored on Zobrist‘s single. Pena hit a sac fly and Pat Burrell hit a run-scoring single.
“That first inning kind of set the stage for a wacky game,” Niemann said.
Lyle Overbay started the Blue Jays’ five-run second with a single and finished it by hitting into a double play. Vernon Wells walked and Ruiz chopped an infield hit before Barajas slammed the Blue Jays into the lead.
Snider walked, Jose Bautista singled him to third and took second on the throw. Snider scored when Marco Scutaro’s grounder to shortstop resulted in a rundown that nabbed Bautista between second and third.
The Blue Jays scored an unearned run in the third after Ruiz and Barajas singled and the Rays botched a force attempt at second on Snider’s grounder.
But it wasn’t enough as the Rays came back in the fourth. Bartlett’s single scored Gabe Gross who doubled with one out and moved to third on B.J. Upton’s infield single. Snider’s error allowed Upton to score and Bartlett to take third. Willy Aybar‘s infield out scored the tying run to score.