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Happ, Blue Jays drop opener at Tropicana

Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- It was a rough Friday night for left-hander J.A. Happ and the Blue Jays, who were beaten by the Rays, 6-2, at Tropicana Field. Happ wasn't battered, but the little things added up.

"It was just falling behind on counts,'' Happ said. "It's tough to pitch like that. I don't think they were hitting the ball all over the park, but I didn't do quite enough.''

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ST. PETERSBURG -- It was a rough Friday night for left-hander J.A. Happ and the Blue Jays, who were beaten by the Rays, 6-2, at Tropicana Field. Happ wasn't battered, but the little things added up.

"It was just falling behind on counts,'' Happ said. "It's tough to pitch like that. I don't think they were hitting the ball all over the park, but I didn't do quite enough.''

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Happ (4-2), who hadn't lost since his Opening Day start against the Yankees, lasted only 5 2/3 innings and labored through a 108-pitch outing while walking four and allowing three earned runs.

Overall, the Blue Jays have lost three of their last four games within a 4-7 stretch (after a 14-8 start to the season).

Video: TOR@TB: Hernandez drives in a run with a sac fly

Happ had a 1-0 lead in the third, when Rays' ninth-place batter Johnny Field tied the game with a two-out solo home run. Field picked on a 2-0 fastball.

"The execution was fine, but it was a bad idea form the get-go,'' Happ said. "He's strong there. He had leverage in the count, and I put it in his wheelhouse. He got me there.''

In the fourth, the Rays took a 3-1 lead they wouldn't lose, cashing in on Wilson Ramos' RBI single and a fielder's choice RBI grounder from Denard Span.

"It wasn't an easy night for Happ, but he kept us right there,'' Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "That's all it was [poor command]. He had been so good. It just goes to show you, when you're a little bit off [and] you still hold a team in the big leagues to three runs, that's pretty darn good.''

Happ was lifted in the sixth when he loaded the bases with two outs, but reliever Jake Petricka coaxed Carlos Gomez into an inning-ending flyout. The Rays extended their advantage to 4-1 in the seventh. Field smacked a one-out double down the left-field line and scored on Adeiny Hechavarria's RBI single.

The Blue Jays opened the scoring with a first-inning run off Rays starter Andrew Kittredge, who began the planned bullpen day. Curtis Granderson legged out a double when his sinking line drive took a high hop to Span in left field. Granderson went to third, then scored on sacrifice flies by Yangervis Solarte and Teoscar Hernandez.

Video: TOR@TB: Granderson doubles to lead off the game

During the sequence, though, Granderson suffered right hamstring tightness, leaving the game to be replaced by Dalton Pompey. Granderson went to left field during the first inning, but "something didn't feel quite right.'' Depending on how he feels Saturday, Granderson said it's conceivable he could sit out the rest of the series, have a Monday off-day and be ready to go Tuesday at home against the Mariners.

"We don't think it's a big deal,'' Gibbons said. More >

Video: TOR@TB: Granderson leaves game with an injury

The Granderson-led offense went cold after the second inning, when the Rays went to reliever Ryan Yarbrough. That's when the trouble really began. Yarbrough surrendered a leadoff single to Pompey in the third, then retired 15 consecutive Toronto batters before his work was finished after the seventh.

The Blue Jays got a run back on Aledmys Diaz's solo homer in the eighth. But Rays designated hitter Brad Miller put the Blue Jays in a deeper hole with a two-run homer off reliever Tim Mayza in the bottom of the eighth.

"They just outplayed us,'' Gibbons said. "That left-hander [Yarbrough] came in and did a great job.''

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Blue Jays had battled to within 4-2 in the eighth inning and were one strike away from heading to the ninth with a two-run deficit. But that's when Mayza served up a two-strike, two-out homer to Miller, countering the sliver of momentum the Blue Jays had built.

SOUND SMART
Happ's four walks were a season high and his three strikeouts were a season low. In his career at Tropicana Field, he's 1-2 with a 6.05 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts), which includes 14 walks and 30 strikeouts.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Diaz turned in a slick fielding play in the first. After Rays first baseman C.J. Cron drew a one-out walk, Matt Duffy slapped a grounder toward the middle, away from Diaz. But Diaz ranged far to his left, stretching to field the ball and shoveling it with his glove to second baseman Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who turned the double play.

"That was a nice play,'' Happ said. "That gave us momentum there, and we were able to get off the field.''

Video: TOR@TB: Diaz flips to Gurriel to start double play

HE SAID IT
"As much as you'd like to say, 'Let's change this, let's add that,' it was just a matter of us not getting it done against the Rays pitching. They also swung the bats well. Now we've got to go back, try to even the series, then try to win the series. Put this behind us.'' -- Granderson

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays will face a hot pitcher Saturday at 6:10 p.m. ET in Rays right-hander Jake Faria, who is coming off the best outing of his Major League career. Faria (2-1, 4.60 ERA) tossed eight shutout innings in Detroit on Monday, allowing just four baserunners and striking out six. Faria was 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA last season against the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays will counter with right-hander Aaron Sanchez (2-2, 4.06 ERA), who owns a 1.24 ERA in 13 appearances against the Rays.

Joey Johnston is a contributor to MLB.com.

Toronto Blue Jays