After blowing three leads, two of them in extra innings, during a 7-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Blue Jays were at a loss to explain what happened.
"I think any time you lose a game late, those are tough to take," manager John Farrell said after watching his team fail to protect leads in the 10th and 11th innings and then lose on Robinson Chirinos' two-out single in the 12th. "You work all day to get yourself into a position, you present yourself the position and it is not converted."
Cecil, seeking his fourth consecutive win after going 1-4 to start the season, was sailing along with a two-run lead when he yielded a three-run homer to struggling slugger Evan Longoria in the fifth. Jose Bautista's major league-leading 33rd homer tied it 3-all in the eighth, however the Toronto bullpen faltered down the stretch.
"The pitch to Longoria really should never have happened," Cecil said. "I know I preach a lot about pitch selection, but today it was more about pitch location than pitch selection."
Jennings' solo homer in the 10th made it 4-all. Chirinos tied it again in the 11th with a two-out, pinch-hit single up the middle against Shawn Camp (1-2), then won it with another two-out single in the 12th. A third rookie, right-hander Brandon Gomes (1-1), pitched one scoreless inning for his first major league win.
"It was a tough game. We jumped out quick, got a couple of runs but didn't have many opportunities for six straight (innings)," Farrell said. "Jose hit the home run to get the game back tied and ... pump some life back into us."
The Blue Jays took a brief lead in the 10th when Colby Rasmus delivered a RBI double for his biggest hit since being acquired from St. Louis in an eight-player trade on July 27. Reliever Jon Rauch blew a save chance in the bottom half when Jennings hit a leadoff homer.
Jose Molina's two-run triple off Juan Cruz put Toronto ahead in the 11th. Matt Joyce's RBI grounder pulled Tampa Bay within a run before Chirinos singled to extend the game once again.
The Rays said it Chirinos became the first rookie with separate tying and winning hits in extra innings of the same game since Nick Green did it for Atlanta against Boston on July 2, 2004.
"You have to give them credit," Farrell said. "They continued to battle their way out of a tight situation."
The Blue Jays loaded the bases with no outs in the first when Rasmus doubled and Davis walked Yunel Escobar and Bautista. Adam Lind's single, snapping a career-worst 0-for-22 streak, drove in one run and another scored when Edwin Encarnacion grounded into a double play.
Cecil limited the Rays to one hit — Casey Kotchman's two-out single in the fourth — until Justin Ruggiano and Jennings singled in the fifth. Johnny Damon kept the inning going by hustling up the first base to avoid grounding into a double play, setting up Longoria's first-pitch homer that put the Rays ahead 3-2.
The Blue Jays starter allowed three runs and four hits in six innings. The left-hander walked three and struck out four.
"On a day where he makes one mistake with two outs on a fastball up a little — and Longoria's got that capability, we all know that — he put us in a position to win," Farrell said.
NOTES: Cecil has pitched at least six innings in each of the seven starts he's made since being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on June 30. ... Left-hander Brad Mills will make his second start of the season for Toronto when the Blue Jays continue their six-game road trip at Baltimore on Friday. He lost his season debut 3-0 to Texas, allowing two runs over seven innings. ... The Blue Jays purchased the contract of INF Brett Lawrie from Triple-A Las Vegas. In addition LHP Luis Perez was recalled from Las Vegas, OF Travis Snider was optioned to the Triple-A club and RHP Carlos Villanueva was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain.