TORONTO – Carlos Villanueva pitched six sharp innings and the Toronto Blue Jays beat slumping Tampa Bay 2-0 on Thursday night, snapping a five-game losing streak against the Rays.
Tampa Bay lost for the fifth time in six games and dropped 1½ games behind Baltimore for the second AL wild-card berth. The Rays have been shut out twice in the past three games, losing 1-0 at Texas on Tuesday night.
Kelly Johnson hit a two-run double in the first inning and Toronto won consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 12-13, improving to 3-9 against the Rays this season.
Villanueva (7-4) allowed five hits, all singles, to win for the first time since July 27 against Detroit. The right-hander had gone 0-4 in five starts since, despite never allowing more than four earned runs. He walked one and struck out seven, including six straight during one stretch to tie a club record.
It was the first win in five career appearances against Tampa Bay for Villanueva, who entered 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA against the Rays.
Darren Oliver and Brad Lincoln each worked one inning and Casey Janssen finished for his 18th save in 21 chances.
The hard-luck loser was Rays rookie left-hander Matt Moore, who allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. Moore walked three, two in the decisive first inning, and struck out seven. The loss was his first since July 22 against Seattle.
Moore (10-8) got two quick outs in the first but couldn't wrap things up. Edwin Encarnacion walked, Adam Lind singled and Yunel Escobar walked to load the bases for Johnson, who doubled into the right-field corner.
Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce opened the second with back-to-back singles and moved up on Jeff Keppinger's sacrifice, but the Rays couldn't score. Luke Scott fouled out and Jose Lobaton was caught looking to end the inning.
Lobaton's strikeout was the first of six straight by Villanueva, the fourth Toronto pitcher to achieve the feat and second this month: J.A. Happ fanned six straight against Texas on Aug. 17.
The Rays put runners at first and second with one out in the fifth, but No. 9 hitter Sam Fuld flied out and left fielder Rajai Davis caught Desmond Jennings' sinking liner to keep Tampa Bay scoreless.
Rays slugger Carlos Pena, 0 for 17 with 10 strikeouts since his last base hit, was held out of the starting lineup. Scott started at first base and Joyce was the designated hitter.
NOTES: Blue Jays OF Jose Bautista (left wrist) will undergo season-ending surgery Sept. 4. He's expected to be ready in time for spring training 2013. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon said Longoria will start at DH on Friday. ... Rays LHP David Price was delayed arriving in Toronto because he left his passport at home in Tampa, Fla. Price arranged for a friend to fly the passport from Florida to Texas, then he and the friend flew to Canada. ... Blue Jays RHP Jason Frasor (forearm) struck out two in a scoreless inning for Class-A Dunedin. He's expected to rejoin the team Saturday when rosters expand. ... Ted Lilly and Marc Rzepczynski are the other Blue Jays pitchers to record six straight strikeouts. ... Former Blue Jays OF Frank Catalanotto threw out the first pitch.