Rays 3 Jays 0
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Chad Jenkins was the tough-luck loser in his first big league start.
Jenkins allowed one run and two hits over five innings in the Toronto Blue Jays’ 3-0 loss to the surging Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
“He did a very good job for us,” Toronto manager John Farrell said. “From the second inning on he did a much better job of controlling the strike zone in the bottom half. Still, the one run allowed, an outstanding job on his part.”
Farrell said Jenkins (0-2), who made 10 appearances out of the bullpen since being called up from the minors, will remain in the Toronto rotation. The right-hander struck out four and walked one.
“I’m excited to be starting again and kind of get back into the routine,” Jenkins said. “I’m honoured that he feels I’ve earned another one. Hopefully I can go out and repeat it again.”
B.J. Upton hit his eighth home run in 14 games and Jeremy Hellickson won for the first time in more than a month as the Rays won their the fifth straight game. Tampa Bay is 3 1/2 games behind the Oakland Athletics in the race for the AL’s second wild-card spot.
“We’re just going out and winning, and seeing what happens,” Upton said. “We just have to go out and win as many ball games as we can.”
Toronto has lost six in a row and 10 of 12.
“We’re all well aware of where we are,” Farrell said. “We have to continue to go out and execute. There’s no secret formula for this. It’s not that we’re looking for something that has been hidden in our clubhouse for the last month and a half. It’s all here right in front of us.”
Hellickson (9-10) pitched 5 2-3 innings, giving up five hits and two walks while striking out six. The right-hander has given up only 16 runs in his last eight starts, but has won only two of them. Sunday marked his first win since Aug. 20.
Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 44th save.
Upton’s 26th home run came in the first inning off Jenkins.
“That first inning I was a little excited,” Jenkins said. “After that I settled down. I stopped trying to overthrow as much. Kept the ball down. Start mixing the change up a little bit more, keeping them off balance.”
Evan Longoria, who had two of Tampa Bay’s seven hits, drove in the other runs with a double in the eighth off Brandon Lyon. His double came after the Blue Jays intentionally Ben Zobrist with one out and Desmond Jennings on second.
“Just trying to set-up the groundball double play,” Farrell said. “Unfortunately the cutter stays over the plate rather than get to the outer edge and he drives the ball into right field.”
The Rays, who lead the AL with 111 errors, relied on big defensive plays to preserve their 15th shutout of the season. With Anthony Gose on third base and two outs in the Toronto seventh, reliever J.P. Howell ran down a chopper past the mound and threw out Colby Rasmus.
“We had opportunities in the fifth, sixth and seventh,” Farrell said. “A two-out hit was elusive, and in the end we’re sitting there with a goose egg on the board.”
Yunel Escobar had three hits for the Blue Jays, who went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
NOTES: The Rays won the season series, 14-4, and have won 17 straight home series against Toronto. … Jenkins pitched twice against the Rays as a reliever. He has allowed three runs over 13 innings overall against Tampa Bay. … Blue Jays C J.P. Arencibia was hitless in four at-bats and is 2 for 36 since returning from a right hand injury.