By Steve Keating
TORONTO (Reuters) - Eric Thames and Jose Bautista slammed back-to-back homers and Edwin Encarnacion added a two-run blast as the Toronto Blue Jays ended Cliff Lee's shutout streak by pounding the Philadelphia Phillies 7-4 on Sunday.
Lee, who had looked invincible stringing together three consecutive shutouts while going 5-0 with a miniscule 0.21 ERA in June, was rocked for seven runs on 10 hits by the big-hitting Blue Jays, who avoided a series sweep by the National League leaders bringing the Canada Day holiday weekend to an end with a thrilling comeback victory.
"They didn't back down, they didn't back away from a very difficult series, a tough, tough challenge," Blue Jays manager John Farrell told reporters. "We could have come in flat, we could have come in knowing we were going up against a guy who had thrown 30 plus scoreless innings but we chipped away and we started to feel the momentum start to build in the dugout.
Lee finally saw his scoreless innings streak come to an end at 34 when Rajai Davis tripled to lead off the third and scored on John McDonald's grounder. The streak was the second longest by a Phillies pitcher after Grover Cleveland Alexander, who threw 41 consecutive shutout innings in 1911.
The Blue Jays continued to eat away at the Philadelphia lead, pushing across a run in each of the fifth and sixth innings to trim the deficit to 4-3, then unleashed their booming bats with a four-run explosion in the eighth.
Thames triggered the burst with a solo shot to lead off the inning followed immediately by a towering blast from Bautista, who found the left-field bleachers for his major league-leading 27th home run of the season.
Before the opening pitch, the starting lineups for the All-Star game were announced and Bautista, who pulled in a record 7,454,753 votes, celebrated his selection by hammering his third homer in as many games against the major league's top team.
Two batters later Encarnacion chased Lee (9-6) from the game with a two-run homer.
"For Eric to come out and start an inning like that is huge, I was able to follow up and Edwin's blast capped it off," said Bautista. "He (Lee) gave me something I was looking for and I was able to capitalize.
"It's big just like any other win. Like yesterday was just another loss, today is just another win. We're not going to look into it too much."
(Editing by Clare Fallon)