Rays miss opportunities, drop 3-2 to Blue Jays
TORONTO (AP) -- Marcus Stroman made sure Tampa Bay's offensive awakening was short-lived.
Stroman pitched 6 1/3 innings, Steve Pearce homered and scored twice and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the struggling Rays 3-2 on Wednesday night.
Stroman (11-6) allowed two runs and six hits to beat the Rays for the first time in five career meetings at Rogers Centre. The right-hander entered 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA in four home starts against the AL East rivals.
"He's not an ace for no reason," Rays outfielder Mallex Smith said. "All his stuff moves, great deception. Everything seems like it's going to start for a strike and then drops out of the zone."
Toronto has won 11 of 16 at home.
The Rays, who broke out of a prolonged offensive slump with a 6-4 win Tuesday, found runs hard to come by again Wednesday. Brad Miller hit an RBI groundout in the fifth and pinch-hitter Steven Souza drew a bases loaded walk in the seventh.
"Tight ballgame," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We had our opportunities but just weren't able to capitalize."
Tampa Bay has scored two or fewer runs in nine of its past 12 games. The Rays are 1-8 in those games.
"Stroman is tough," Cash said. "He's having a good year. He keeps the ball on the ground. He's a very tough guy to get anything up in the air."
Stroman has allowed just one home run over his past 10 starts.
"He keeps guys off balance when he's down in the zone and you know he's working when he gets the ground balls," Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale said.
Stroman left after the Rays used two walks and a single to load the bases in the seventh. Aaron Loup came on and issued the bases loaded walk to Souza.
As Blue Jays manager John Gibbons came out to replace Loup with Dominic Leone, he was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Lance Barksdale. Gibbons continued to the mound to make the change, then resumed his argument with Barksdale as he left the field.
Leone escaped the jam by striking out Evan Longoria looking and getting Logan Morrison to pop out.
Stroman appreciated Leone's work in preserving the lead.
"That was a key spot right there to come in and be able to get those two huge outs," Stroman said.
Ryan Tepera worked the eighth and Roberto Osuna pitched around a leadoff single in the ninth for his 31st save in 38 chances.
The Blue Jays opened the scoring against Jake Faria on Jose Bautista's RBI double in the third. Pearce made it 2-0 with a leadoff homer in the fourth, his 12th.
"The ball that Bautista hit, the ball that Pearce hit were both pitches that I missed up and away," Faria said.
Pearce doubled to begin the sixth and scored when Ryan Goins greeted reliever Dan Jennings with an RBI single.
Faria (5-4) lost his third straight start, allowing three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
"I don't think Jake was at his best, at his sharpest," Cash said.
ONE RUN FUN
Toronto is 19-15 in one-run games, including 4-1 against the Rays.
CRIME DOESN'T PAY
On his unsuccessful attempt to steal second base in the sixth, Goins was spiked in the left forearm by Rays shortstop Daniel Robertson. Goins stayed down in pain and walked off with a trickle of blood running down his arm. He was replaced by Rob Refsnyder. X-rays were negative and Goins is day-to-day with a bruise and a 2-inch gash.
Rays pinch runner Adeiny Hechavarria was struck by a batted ball as he took his lead off third base in the seventh. Hechavarria was standing in foul territory, meaning he was not called out.
Rays: OF Kevin Kiermaier (right hip) started at DH and went 0 for 3 with a walk in a rehab game at Class-A Charlotte.
Blue Jays: Toronto activated C Miguel Montero (right groin) from the 10-day DL and Leone from the bereavement list. LHP J.P. Howell and C Mike Ohlman were designated for assignment.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (8-7, 3.84) lasted 5 1/3 innings against Cleveland in his previous outing, the first time in 16 starts he had failed to pitch at least six innings. Archer is 6-4 with a 3.13 ERA in 22 career games against the Blue Jays, all starts.
Blue Jays: RHP Chris Rowley (1-0, 1.69) pitched 5 1/3 innings to beat Pittsburgh in his debut Saturday. Rowley is the first West Point graduate to play in the majors.