TORONTO – On the mound and even on defense, Blue Jays pitcher Henderson Alvarez got hit hard Thursday night.
Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer and came within a triple of the cycle, Desmond Jennings added a solo shot and the Tampa Bay Rays beat Toronto 9-4 Thursday night.
Longoria went 3 for 4 with a season-high four RBIs and reached base four times as the Rays tagged Alvarez for a career-high six earned runs.
"In the course of this series, it seems like every pitch we made up on the plate they didn't miss," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
Alvarez (0-1) allowed six hits in 6 1-3 innings, walked two and struck out four. Henderson and catcher J.P. Arencibia said many of Tampa Bay's hits came on poorly located pitches.
"I just thinking leaving the ball up," Arencibia said. "When he's down, guys don't have good swings off of him."
Alvarez also got hit hard while backing up a play at the plate in the second when Jose Bautista's throw from right skipped past Arencibia and struck Alvarez on the left collarbone. Alvarez went down and was treated briefly on the field but stayed in the game.
"It didn't affect me after I was hit," Alvarez said through coach and translator Luis Rivera. "I was hit in the left shoulder right on the bone, but it didn't affect me when I was pitching."
After reviewing the play on video, Arencibia wouldn't fault his positioning.
"I'd do it 100 times the same way," he said. "It short hopped me and the hardest ball to catch in baseball is a short hop. Not only did it short hop me, it short hopped me and hopped up."
Jeremy Hellickson won for the Rays, who have won nine of their past 12 games against the Blue Jays and 10 of 15 at Rogers Centre. Hellickson (2-0) gave up three runs, two earned, in 5 2-3 innings. He walked three and struck out four.
Hellickson left after Yunel Escobar drew a two-out walk in the sixth. Kelly Johnson singled off Jake McGee and Burke Badenhop walked Bautista to load the bases for Adam Lind, but J.P. Howell escaped the jam by getting Lind to line out to first.
"It was just one of those games where we didn't have the timely hitting and they did," Arencibia said.
Howell worked 1 1-3 innings, Joel Peralta pitched one inning and Fernando Rodney finished, giving up Brett Lawrie's RBI grounder in the ninth.
Trailing after Longoria's RBI single in the first, the Blue Jays tied it in the bottom half on Lind's two-out double.
The Rays reclaimed the lead with two in the second. Matt Joyce scored on Sean Rodriguez's single, with Rodriguez ending up at third on Bautista's errant throw and scoring on a single by Jennings.
Toronto tied it at 3 in the fourth. Arencibia hit an RBI double and Escobar followed with a grounder to short, with Arencibia scoring on Rodriguez's throwing error.
The Rays took the lead for good with a three-run, two-homer fifth. Jennings hit a one-out drive to left, his first and, after Zobrist walked, Longoria made it 6-3 with a shot off the facing of the center field restaurant, his first since Tampa Bay's April 6 opener.
"It's a relief to finally hit another one," Longoria said. "They feel good when you get a chance to round the bases."
Longoria doubled home a run off Jason Frasor in the ninth and Luke Scott capped it with a two-run double.
NOTES: Tampa Bay moved C Robinson Chirinos (concussion) to the 60-day DL and claimed 1B/OF Brandon Allen on waivers from Oakland. Allen is expected to join the Rays Friday when they return to Florida. The Rays are also expected to activate OF B.J. Upton (sore back) off the DL Friday, meaning they will make two roster moves before hosting Minnesota. ... Toronto optioned LH Evan Crawford to Double-A New Hampshire after the game and purchased the contract of RH Drew Hutchison from Double-A. Hutchison will make his ML debut at Kansas City on Saturday. To make room for Hutchison on the 40-man roster, RH Jesse Litsch was moved to the 60-day DL. ... Commissioner Bud Selig said the Rays need a new stadium to remain competitive. "They need a new ballpark, there's no question," Selig said Thursday in an interview with the Associated Press Sports Editors. ... Alvarez has never walked more than two batters in any of his 13 ML starts. ... Arencibia snapped an 0 for 14 slump with his single in the second. ... The roof at Rogers Centre was open for the first time this season. This is the third-earliest date the roof has been open for at least the start of a game.