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Garcia wobbles as Jays can't contain Braves

Lefty (2-6, 6.16 ERA) allowed five earned runs over three-plus frames
MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays had visions in Spring Training of Jaime Garcia being the final piece to a starting rotation that was supposed to be one of the best in the American League. Three months later, Garcia is barely holding onto a job.

Garcia's struggles went from bad to worse on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, when he allowed five runs over three-plus innings in an 11-4 loss to Atlanta. The veteran lefty served up a pair of home runs -- including a grand slam to No. 9 hitter Johan Camargo -- and his command was once again an issue as he walked three batters.

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TORONTO -- The Blue Jays had visions in Spring Training of Jaime Garcia being the final piece to a starting rotation that was supposed to be one of the best in the American League. Three months later, Garcia is barely holding onto a job.

Garcia's struggles went from bad to worse on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, when he allowed five runs over three-plus innings in an 11-4 loss to Atlanta. The veteran lefty served up a pair of home runs -- including a grand slam to No. 9 hitter Johan Camargo -- and his command was once again an issue as he walked three batters.

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Video: ATL@TOR: Camargo opens the scoring with a grand slam

In 13 starts this season, Garcia has managed to complete six innings just three times and his record sits at 2-6 with a 6.16 ERA. This is not the pitcher Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins thought he was getting when Toronto handed the 31-year-old $10 million worth of guaranteed money in mid-February, but at this point all the Blue Jays can do is wait and hope that he turns it around.

"It's frustrating," Garcia said after the game. "The biggest thing is, I'm not able to get the job done for what this team expects me to do. I take a lot of pride in that. It's disappointing on my part. I'm not making excuses about anything. I take full responsibility and in a game like today, it's completely on me.

"I feel like I'm letting my team down. But I've always been a guy who keeps my head up and I've been through a lot but I'm also a guy who finds a way and keeps going. That's what I'm going to do."

Garcia has allowed at least four runs in three of his last four starts and his 5.96 ERA since coming off the 10-day disabled list on May 26 doesn't show much hope that things are getting better. Even though there are alternatives, and even though Garcia's struggles have been taking place all year, he doesn't appear to be in immediate risk of losing his spot in the rotation.

Right-hander Marcus Stroman is set to return from the disabled list this weekend. Sam Gaviglio, who has been pitching better than Garcia, likely will lose his spot in the rotation and end up either in the bullpen or starting for Triple-A Buffalo. The logical assumption is that Garcia will remain right where he is while the Blue Jays allow him to continue working through his issues in advance of next month's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

On Tuesday night, Garcia dug the Blue Jays an early hole by allowing a second-inning grand slam to Camargo. The home run followed a stretch of Garcia tossing seven consecutive balls, which essentially forced him to groove a fastball down the middle of the plate, and Camargo didn't miss it. Charlie Culberson added a solo shot in the top of the fourth and soon after that Garcia's night was done after 64 pitches, 34 of which were strikes.

Video: ATL@TOR: Culberson crushes a solo shot to left

"Things just kind of come and go," Garcia said of his struggles. "I've been battling my whole career with stuff, but it's frustrating sometimes when I lose feel. It's tough. I'm trying to figure out what it is. I'm just going to continue to find a way and grind."

Toronto tried to battle back on offense but the early deficit was too much to overcome. Luke Maile drove in a pair of runs while Yangervis Solarte had a two-run double. Canadian starter Mike Soroka fell one out shy of picking up the victory for the Braves, after he allowed four runs on eight hits and a pair of walks while striking out two over 4 2/3 innings. Soroka, who is from Calgary, had his family in attendance for his first professional start on Canadian soil.

Video: ATL@TOR: Soroka's father on seeing his son pitch

"That's baseball," first baseman Justin Smoak said after the Blue Jays' home winning streak was snapped at seven games. "We're playing a good team and they kept putting runs on the board tonight. We were right there with them for a while."

SOUND SMART
Garcia has lost six consecutive decisions, which matches a career high he set from Aug. 23, 2016-April 6, 2017.

MOVING ON UP
Lefty Aaron Loup made his 353rd career appearance for the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, which surpassed Jim Clancy (352) for the seventh most all-time appearances by a Toronto pitcher. Next up on the list for Loup is Canadian Paul Quantrill, who made 386 appearances for the Blue Jays. Loup allowed two runs in the eighth inning against Atlanta.

HE SAID IT
"It was a battle. No doubt. A couple of innings he got a couple of quick outs but on the grand slam, the walks got him. When you fall behind you have to bring it in there." -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, on the seven consecutive balls Garcia threw prior to Camargo's grand slam

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays will close out their mini two-game series against the Braves when left-hander J.A. Happ (8-3, 3.48) takes the mound on Wednesday afternoon at Rogers Centre, with first pitch scheduled for 12:37 p.m. ET. Happ has allowed three runs or fewer in five of his last six games and he owns a career 2.42 ERA against the Braves. Atlanta will counter with veteran right-hander Anibal Sanchez (3-0, 1.93) in a game that will be broadcast exclusively on Facebook.

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