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Loup, Osuna lead 'pen in clutch performance

MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' overworked bullpen was missing a couple of its key relievers on Monday night but it didn't seem to matter with the way Aaron Loup and Roberto Osuna were pitching.

Loup escaped a two-runners-on, nobody-out situation in the seventh and Osuna picked up his first four-out save of the season in Toronto's 2-1 victory over the Rays. Tampa Bay's offense has struggled and the Blue Jays' pitching staff made sure those woes continued as Toronto picked up its third victory when scoring two runs or less.

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TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' overworked bullpen was missing a couple of its key relievers on Monday night but it didn't seem to matter with the way Aaron Loup and Roberto Osuna were pitching.

Loup escaped a two-runners-on, nobody-out situation in the seventh and Osuna picked up his first four-out save of the season in Toronto's 2-1 victory over the Rays. Tampa Bay's offense has struggled and the Blue Jays' pitching staff made sure those woes continued as Toronto picked up its third victory when scoring two runs or less.

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Blue Jays manager John Gibbons found himself in a precarious situation Monday. His top setup men, Danny Barnes and Ryan Tepera, needed rest and were unavailable to pitch. That normally would have led to trouble, but instead starter Nick Tepesch managed to piece together six quality innings and the two relievers took it the rest of the way.

Video: TB@TOR: Tepesch gets out of a bases-loaded jam

"They don't have that glorified role, it's usually that setup man and ninth-inning guy that gets most of the recognition but you can't survive without the guys pitching well in the middle innings and Loupy has done that," Gibbons said. "Loupy's had a nice year, a nice bounce-back year."

Loup entered in the seventh after Tepesch hit the first batter and walked the second. Toronto was clinging to a 2-1 lead but Loup made sure it stayed that way. First, Loup got Chris Dickerson to hit into a fielder's choice. Then he got Lucas Duda to strike out and Evan Longoria to pop out as the threat came to an end.

The 29-year-old returned for the eighth and retired two of the three batters he faced before turning things over to Osuna. Loup finished with three strikeouts for the fifth time in 2017 and has now stranded 25 of 29 baserunners (86.2 percent), which is ranked sixth-best among qualified relievers.

That, combined with four outs from Osuna, was enough to secure the win for Tepesch in his second start for Toronto. Tepesch scattered four hits and three walks to pick up the quality start and his first victory.

Video: TB@TOR: Osuna retires Dickerson to earn his 30th save

"I had a long inning with the walks and I hit a couple of guys. I left Loup in a tough spot at the end but he bailed us out of it and did a great job," Tepesch said.

Toronto's bullpen has been pushed to the brink several times this season. Blue Jays relievers have thrown the most innings in the American League (428) and three of their pitchers have been overworked for most of the year. Tepera ranks third in the AL in innings (59 1/3), Dominic Leone ranks 11th (53) despite having been optioned to the Minors several times, and Barnes is 28th (48) despite not starting the year with Toronto and spending time on the DL.

The reality is the Blue Jays need more innings from their starters and Tepesch's outing was a step in the right direction. Solid outings from Loup and Osuna, to protect the rest of the relievers, was another.

"Part of their job is they have to get four-out saves every now and then," Gibbons said. "[Osuna] had been off the last three out of four days so he was rested ... Since we were able to stay away from him the last [few] days it opened this up tonight."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays