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Estrada's bounceback a bright spot in loss

After tough start to June, righty fans six over seven solid innings
Special to MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- The Blue Jays were handed another frustrating loss on Saturday, but there was at least some consolation: Marco Estrada looked like his former efficient self.

Plagued by a 12.67 ERA through four June starts, Estrada turned back the pages by limiting the Royals to five hits and three runs over seven innings in a 3-2 Toronto loss.

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KANSAS CITY -- The Blue Jays were handed another frustrating loss on Saturday, but there was at least some consolation: Marco Estrada looked like his former efficient self.

Plagued by a 12.67 ERA through four June starts, Estrada turned back the pages by limiting the Royals to five hits and three runs over seven innings in a 3-2 Toronto loss.

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But those numbers don't really tell how well Estrada pitched. A couple of catchable fly balls off Alcides Escobar's bat fell to the grass, which loomed large in producing two of the three Kansas City runs.

"Obviously, I've had really rough outings lately, and sometimes it's hard to get out of that," Estrada said. "Today, I just let it all go and said, 'You're better than this. Just make pitches, stop worrying about everything.'"

Estrada had a 1-0 lead in the third when Escobar launched a fly to right-center. Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista converged, but poor communication allowed the ball to fall in for a leadoff triple. Even then, Estrada induced a one-out fly to short left off Whit Merrifield's bat. But Steve Pearce's throw home was just late, according to a replay review.

Video: TOR@KC: Merrifield's sacrifice fly plates Escobar

"A miscue in the outfield ... you never see that happen with Pillar and Jose," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

After Eric Hosmer and Pillar each hit solo homers, the Royals scored the winning run in the seventh. Again, Estrada had tough luck. With one out, Escobar floated a high fly to short left. Pearce, who has a sore knee, was playing deep and couldn't reach the ball while sprinting in. Alex Gordon followed with a game-winning RBI triple.

"It's tough to take because we lost," Estrada said. "No matter what I did or anybody did, it's tough.

"In the seventh, [Escobar] hits that flare to left, and it seemed like a lifetime that ball was up in the air. It's a big field, and guys are playing deep. He ends up scoring on the triple, which was a terrible pitch. That was frustrating, but I didn't let it bother me. I kept making pitches and got out of the inning."

The Blue Jays didn't have any late-inning offensive magic, which the Royals had displayed the night before. Toronto is now four games under .500.

"We've got to pick it up," Gibbons said.

The best news for the Blue Jays was that Estrada showed Saturday he's ready to be a big part of that pick-it-up process.

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City who covered the Blue Jays on Saturday.

Toronto Blue Jays, Marco Estrada