Hill’s homers not enough as Jays blow big lead

Toronto Blue Jay closer Scott Downs used the word “embarrassing” to describe his performance in a 10-9 extra-innings loss on Saturday to Tampa Bay.

Tampa Rays’ Willy Aybar runs the bases behind Toronto Jays pitcher Scott Downs after hitting a home run to tie the score 9-9 during ninth inning AL action in Toronto on Saturday.

Devil Rays 10 Blue Jays 9

TORONTO — Toronto Blue Jay closer Scott Downs used the word “embarrassing” to describe his performance in a 10-9 extra-innings loss on Saturday to Tampa Bay.

He could also have used it to assess Toronto’s overall performance in which they blew leads of 8-0 and 9-1 before losing in 12 innings in front of 26,527 at the Rogers Centre.

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said he was hard-pressed to come up with a word to describe the result that was printable, before settling on “awful.”

“Our bullpen just couldn’t hold them today,” Gaston said.

It was the first time in the Rays’ franchise history that they had overcome an eight-run disadvantage.

Wasted in the Blue Jays collapse was Aaron Hill’s second two-homer game of the season, and of his career. Hill now has 24 homers this season.

Jose Bautista, who threw out two runners at second base from left field, and Alex Rios also homered.

However, it all added up to the third loss in a row for the Blue Jays, and the second extra-inning loss in a row to the Rays. Tampa Bay won 4-2 in 10 innings on Friday.

Downs, who had allowed one home run all season, allowed ninth-inning home runs to Carlos Pena and Willy Aybar to turn a 9-7 lead into a 9-9 tie.

The Rays won it on Jason Bartlett’s two-out double that bit the left-field line and scored Ben Zobrist, who led off the inning with a single against Shawn Camp (0-5).

The Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 12th but Hill struck out looking and Adam Lind grounded out to give Joe Nelson his third save and J.P. Howell (6-2) the win.

“Yesterday, I beat myself and today it was just bad location,“ Downs said. “That’s what happens when things are going bad. It’s unacceptable. It’s an embarrassment.

“That’s the only thing I can say.

“I’ve got to figure out a way to get back in my lanes.”

Downs also took the loss and blew the save last Tuesday when the Cleveland Indians scored twice in the ninth to beat the Blue Jays 2-1. In that game, a ninth-inning error by first baseman Lyle Overbay was a key.

“We finally scored some runs,” Gaston said. “The last three days or so if we score that many runs we win the ball game. Right now we’re just not putting the two together.

“Of course, there’s nothing we can do but go home and come back tomorrow and see if we can pick it up and play better baseball.”

Downs was put on the disabled list with a toe injury on June 18 and returned on July 8 and Gaston said he’s having his problems.

“You’ve still got two runs and you’re bringing in a guy that’s been a pretty good pitcher for you,” Gaston said. “Two home runs to tie up the ball game that’s unexpected, especially off of Pena who doesn’t hit 1/8Downs 3/8 well at all.”

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