Alex Cobb broke the club record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched, but still fell prey to Toronto's potent offense, giving up season highs in hits (9), earned runs (6) and homers (2), as the Blue Jays topped the Rays, 9-6, at Rogers Centre.
"Sometimes you just can't look too much into something. And understand that these are big league hitters at the top of their game," Cobb said of the Blue Jays. "They're locked in right now."
Cobb navigated the minefield that is the Blue Jays' batting order with efficiency in the early going, but took a Jose Reyes line drive off the upper thigh in the fifth inning that caused a brief scare as team staff rushed to the mound as a precaution.
It was, after all, a year ago in June that Cobb had to be taken from the field on a stretcher after being hit in the head by a comebacker off the bat of the Royals' Eric Hosmer.
And although Cobb dusted himself off and kept pitching on Tuesday, he went on to surrender back-to-back home runs to Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion, as the Blue Jays won their eighth-straight game.
All said, he pitched five innings, struck out seven and walked one, his record falling to 1-2 with the loss.
He did leave with a feather in his cap, though. Cobb entered the game 1 2/3 innings shy of James Shields' club record of 23 straight innings without giving up a run, and broke it in the bottom of the second when Dioner Navarro grounded out. In total, he pitched 24 2/3 scoreless innings dating back to April 1 to set the new club record.
His streak ended in the fourth when Brett Lawrie singled to right field, scoring Lind. That was the beginning of the middle-innings surge that saw the Blue Jays put up eight runs between the fourth and sixth.
Rays manager Joe Maddon wasn't entirely discouraged by the fact the team has dropped two straight in Toronto. He's seen some spark from guys like James Loney (2-for-4) and Sean Rodriguez (2-for-3), and with 11 runs and 22 hits the past two nights combined, the Tampa Bay offense is doing something right.
"You have to compliment the other side," Maddon said. "They're hitting the ball well. And we actually did a nice job hitting against their pitching staff. I thought we did great against [Toronto starter Mark] Buehrle, and they brought the bullpen in and we were all over that."
The Rays managed to hit Buehrle, who is the first pitcher in the Major Leagues to reach nine wins this season, for four runs (three earned) and eight hits over his 6 2/3 innings.
The big lefty is off to the best start of his career, and owns a 2.33 ERA through 11 starts. But he wasn't thrilled about his outing vs. the Rays. He was roughed up a bit in the fourth, when the Rays jumped to a two-run lead on a pair of leadoff singles and Rodriguez's double.
"Obviously, I didn't pitch good. I didn't have my best game tonight," he said. "I gave up those first two runs and obviously going against Cobb, [who] had a great stretch going, and coming into this game was pretty good, I knew, hey, we might be in trouble."
Toronto drew even in the bottom half of the fourth before putting up four more in the fifth.
But the Rays continued to battle, and after scoring one run in each of the sixth and seventh innings, mounted a rally in the eighth.
With Steve Delabar in to pitch, Rodriguez tripled to the center-field wall, bringing Desmond Jennings around to score. Wil Myers then scored Jennings on a sac fly to make a game of it, cutting the deficit to 9-6.
But Casey Janssen came on to close out the game for Toronto in the ninth, earning his eighth save of the season.