Blackburn tries to get untracked versus Blue Jays

The age of 30 has not been kind to Twins starter Nick Blackburn, who hasn't tasted a victory in over 10 months.

Blackburn will try to break through this evening when Minnesota plays the second contest of a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The right-handed Blackburn is winless since July 8, dropping each of his past eight decisions. That includes an 0-4 mark and 6.84 earned run average through five starts this season.

Blackburn, who turned 30 back in late February, was hit early in Sunday's 5-2 loss in Seattle. He opened the game by throwing six straight balls and four of the five runs he allowed came in the first two innings. The Seminole State product lasted six innings total, yielding seven hits and three walks.

"I thought he was kind of feeling for the ball, wasn't aggressive until later on in the game, and when he got aggressive, he was pretty effective," Minnesota acting manager Scott Ullger said of Blackburn.

Blackburn is 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA in four career starts versus the Blue Jays, who counter with 24-year-old Kyle Drabek.

Drabek opened the season with two straight wins followed by a no-decision, but has lost three straight outings since. The first two setbacks of that career high-tying losing streak were quality starts, but the righty endured a tough outing on Saturday at the Angels.

Drabek was touched for a season-high five runs on eight hits, five walks and two homers over five frames of a 6-2 setback as he struggled with control.

"Just couldn't seem to find the four-seam fastball, and that's what beat me today," said Drabek on Toronto's official website. "It just needs to be fixed. ... That's pretty much the end of that."

The former 2006 first-round pick has faced the Twins just once before, beating them on April 2 of last year with seven innings of one-run ball. Drabek also struck out seven in that outing.

Toronto continued its recent road dominance of the Twins in Thursday's opener, picking up their fifth straight win at Minnesota with a 6-2 triumph. The Blue Jays have won 13 of their past 15 as the guest in this series.

Yunel Escobar set the table by going 4-for-4 and scoring three runs, while Brett Lawrie and Edwin Encarnacion drove in two runs each. Henderson Alvarez allowed two runs -- one earned -- over seven innings for the win, Toronto's second in a row and sixth in nine games.

"I felt good out there tonight and the bullpen really backed me up," said Alvarez. "Those guys have been really solid for us lately and that is always big."

Josh Willingham hit a solo home run in the loss for the Twins, who have dropped five of six and are just 8-23 on the season. They have lost 14 of their past 17.

"I thought we played aggressive out there tonight," said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire. "We just couldn't get hits when we needed them the most."

Jason Marquis gave up six runs -- five earned -- on seven hits in just four innings of work to take the loss.