CLEVELAND — A successful road trip ended on a down note for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Reliever Aaron Loup’s wildness in the sixth inning turned a two-run lead into a one-run deficit and the Blue Jays couldn’t finish off a sweep of the Cleveland Indians, losing 6-4 Sunday.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was pleased with the 5-4 trip, but knows it could have been better.
“I really don’t even look at it,” he said. “You try to win each day. You’re disappointed when you don’t win, especially when you have a chance.”
Giving up walks can change everything, something the Blue Jays learned the hard way. Loup (1-1) gave up a three-run double to David Murphy after walking the bases loaded and the Indians salvaged a game in the series.
The left-hander came in to relieve after Brandon Morrow gave up Nick Swisher’s leadoff single. After getting the first two outs of the inning, Loup then walked Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera to load the bases. Murphy drove in all three to give Cleveland the lead.
“I don’t know if you can call it a lack of focus or just the wheels fell off, I guess,” Loup said.
Gibbons gave credit to the Indians hitters for staying patient.
“Walks hurt you,” he said. “Two of the right-handers (Santana and Cabrera) he ended up walking, that’s kind of the way he pitches to those guys is to get them to swing and miss. But these guys laid off it pretty good.”
Morrow pitched five innings, giving up two runs on three hits. He struck out six and walked two.
“We had great weather today, I wanted to get back to being aggressive,” he said. “I felt good and had good stuff today. My split was really good, especially early.”
Josh Outman (3-0) recorded the final out of the sixth and Cleveland’s bullpen pitched 3 1-3 innings of relief after Carlos Carrasco lasted 5 2-3, giving up four runs on six hits, with five strikeouts and three walks.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona told reporters before the game that he called a team meeting after Saturday’s defeat. The Indians, who had dropped seven of nine, responded by breaking the three-game skid.
Michael Brantley hit a solo homer in the second and added an RBI double in the fourth.
Toronto scored three times on four hits in the fourth. Jose Bautista and Juan Francisco had RBI singles while Brett Lawrie added a run-scoring groundout.
Down 6-4, Toronto made it interesting in the ninth against Indians closer John Axford.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases with two outs, after pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro and Melky Cabrera singled and Bautista walked. Axford got Edwin Encarnacion to ground out to end the game.
“We made a run at it late, it just didn’t happen,” Gibbons said.
Carrasco retired the first nine hitters, but got into immediate trouble in the fourth. Jose Reyes led off with a double into the right field corner. Cabrera’s single sent Reyes to third before Bautista’s single to right tied it.
Encarnacion struck out, but Francisco’s single up the middle scored Cabrera and sent Bautista to third. Lawrie’s groundout made it 3-1.
Reyes added an RBI single in the fifth.
NOTES: Toronto comes home for six games against Baltimore and Boston, starting Tuesday. … Bautista has reached safely in all 19 games. He also drew two walks and leads the AL with 23. … Reyes, playing his second game since returning from a strained left hamstring, was 2 for 5 with an RBI. … Morrow is 0-2 in seven career starts against the Indians, including four straight no-decisions. … With six more walks on Sunday, Blue Jays pitchers have now given up 81 this season, second-most in the AL.