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Toronto overpowered as Estrada struggles

MLB.com @gregorMLB

BOSTON -- The Blue Jays entered this season knowing full well that the American League East was going to be a daunting challenge, but it's proving to be even more difficult than they might have initially expected.

Toronto's woes against its divisional rivals continued on Tuesday night as Marco Estrada surrendered four runs over 3 2/3 innings in an 8-3 loss to the Red Sox. The Blue Jays' record in the AL East dropped to 8-14 with a .364 winning percentage, which ranks last in the division.

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BOSTON -- The Blue Jays entered this season knowing full well that the American League East was going to be a daunting challenge, but it's proving to be even more difficult than they might have initially expected.

Toronto's woes against its divisional rivals continued on Tuesday night as Marco Estrada surrendered four runs over 3 2/3 innings in an 8-3 loss to the Red Sox. The Blue Jays' record in the AL East dropped to 8-14 with a .364 winning percentage, which ranks last in the division.

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The latest loss to Boston saw the Blue Jays fall to a season-high five games below .500 and it guarantees Toronto will not win back-to-back games in May. That marks just the fourth time in franchise history the Blue Jays have not won back-to-back games in a single month. Toronto accomplished that same feat three times in the late '70s -- in July '77, September '78 and May '79.

"We have to get things going, I need to get things going," said Estrada, whose ERA now sits at 5.68. "It all begins with the starting pitcher and I can't go out there and last three innings, four innings. I have to do a better job of keeping my team in these games. I have to go deep into these games and try to put up a lot of zeros."

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons did not seem to have much patience with his starting pitcher on Tuesday, as he pulled Estrada from the game after 63 pitches. The veteran righty allowed two runs in the first, one run in the second and was taken out after another run crossed the plate in the fourth. It was Estrada's shortest outing of the season and the second consecutive start in which he could not complete five innings.

Estrada surrendered seven hits and gave up a lot of hard contact, but he also didn't receive much help in the field. There were at least three makeable plays -- a fly ball to Curtis Granderson in the first, a fly ball to Teoscar Hernandez in the second and a dropped ball on a potential caught stealing by Yangervis Solarte in the second -- that were not converted. Estrada didn't walk a batter and struck out one en route to his fourth consecutive loss.

"I don't feel like talking about that, this is our team," Gibbons said when asked about the defensive issues. "We go out there and play hard every night. I don't care what anybody else thinks. I really don't. People need to look at it objectively and if they're smart enough baseball people they'll understand."

Toronto's offense wasn't much better, as Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello had a relatively easy night on the mound. Porcello allowed three runs -- two earned -- on five hits and two walks while striking out five. Justin Smoak was one of the bright spots for Toronto with his eighth home run of the year -- three of which have come off Boston pitchers -- but the Blue Jays didn't have any other extra-base hits, and they left six men on base.

Video: TOR@BOS: Smoak scorches his 8th homer of the year

The Blue Jays' record in May fell to 9-18 (.333), which is currently the club's lowest winning percentage for that month since 1981 (.310). Toronto will need a win on Wednesday to avoid winning fewer than 10 games in May for the fifth time in franchise history. The Blue Jays were last held to single-digit wins in May during the '81 campaign (9-20).

"We're definitely scuffling," catcher Russell Martin said. "I feel like we're missing half the team. Gibby is doing what he can to put a lineup out there but we have what we have. We're going to fight. We definitely have what it takes to win games, just other teams are playing better than us right now. They're capitalizing on our mistakes. We're making mistakes here and there and the good teams, that's what they do. They capitalize on it."

SOUND SMART
Martin became the third player in Blue Jays history to start four consecutive games at four different positions. Martin has started games at shortstop, catcher, left field and then got the starting call at third base on Tuesday night. Marco Scutaro (LF, SS, 1B, 2B in 2008) and Bob Bailor (LF, CF, RF, 3B in 1978) also accomplished the feat for Toronto. This season, it has also been done by Kansas City's Whit Merrifield and the Cubs' Ian Happ.

DUGOUTS WARNED
Home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza issued warnings to both teams after Blue Jays right-hander Danny Barnes hit Brock Holt with a pitch to open the bottom of the eighth. Barnes' pitch appeared to be in retaliation for a trio of Blue Jays players who were hit earlier in the game.

Video: TOR@BOS: Holt gets hit by pitch, both teams warned

Martin was hit by a pitch from Porcello in the top of the seventh. The incident came shortly after Martin called time during the at-bat and he seemed to think the up-and-in pitch from Porcello was intentional as well. Martin glared toward the mound and exchanged a few words with Porcello before eventually taking his base. Hernandez and Solarte also were hit by pitches during the game.

Video: TOR@BOS: Martin gets hit by a pitch in the 7th

"This is what happened, I get into the box, get ready, look up and [Porcello is] already in his windup," Martin said. "I called time. [Carapazza] gives me the time. It's going to be late because he's already started his delivery. He was pretty late into his delivery and he kind of had to stop his throwing motion and everything.

"That's not what you want to do as a pitcher, I get it. He was probably frustrated a little bit. Then the next pitch, he hits me in the shoulder. Is he trying to hit me? Or is he just trying to make a point by going up and in? Only he knows that, but bottom line is it didn't hurt, I went to first base and we scored some runs so it ended up working out for us."

Video: TOR@BOS: Granderson plates two with RBI single

UP NEXT
Right-hander Sam Gaviglio (2-0, 2.30) will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out a three-game series against the Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET at Fenway Park in a game available on MLB Network. Gaviglio has been sharp since he was placed in the Blue Jays' rotation earlier this month. He has a 2.38 ERA in those two outings and he's coming off a quality start vs. the Phillies that saw him allow three runs over six innings. Gaviglio will throw opposite Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez.

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