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Blue Jays can't back Estrada's solid outing

Righty dealt tough-luck loss in 4th straight quality start
MLB.com @gregorMLB

ANAHEIM -- Marco Estrada's midseason resurgence continued Friday night but the veteran right-hander doesn't have much to show for it thanks to a lack of run support.

Estrada tossed his fourth consecutive quality start but it wasn't enough to avoid a 2-1 loss to the Angels. Toronto put up nine hits in the defeat, but only one of them came with runners in scoring position as the Blue Jays were saddled with their second consecutive loss.

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ANAHEIM -- Marco Estrada's midseason resurgence continued Friday night but the veteran right-hander doesn't have much to show for it thanks to a lack of run support.

Estrada tossed his fourth consecutive quality start but it wasn't enough to avoid a 2-1 loss to the Angels. Toronto put up nine hits in the defeat, but only one of them came with runners in scoring position as the Blue Jays were saddled with their second consecutive loss.

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Video: TOR@LAA: Travis drives in Diaz on a double to right

The 34-year-old Estrada scattered three hits and two walks while allowing two runs over seven strong innings. He has allowed a total of five earned runs over 25 2/3 innings this month with 26 strikeouts compared to five walks. Estrada's ERA, which was 5.68 at the end of May, has since dropped to 4.48.

"Honestly, it has just been getting on top of the baseball," Estrada said of the recent success. "I feel l'm spinning the ball a little bit better. The fastball has a little bit more life. It's the same velocity, but I just feel like there's more life behind it. We've been using every pitch. Not today so much, we threw a lot of fastballs and my changeup didn't feel that great today, but the games before this we've used a lot of cutters and curveballs."

The only real difficulty that Estrada encountered against the Angels came in the first inning, when Justin Upton drew a two-out walk and then came around to score on an RBI double by Albert Pujols. Luis Valbuena followed in the next at-bat with a single to right, and just like that the Angels had a lead that would hold up for the rest of the game.

Toronto's offense was led by Steve Pearce, who had a three-hit night in his first game since returning from the 10-day disabled list. Kendrys Morales also chipped in with a pair of singles and Devon Travis added an RBI double in the top of the seventh to cut the Angels' lead to one, but that was as close as the Blue Jays would get. Toronto finished 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.

Since the start of June, Estrada has a 0.818 WHIP, 9.12 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.75 walks per nine innings to accompany a 2-1 record, but that was of little consolation on Friday night.

"Sometimes that's the way the cookie crumbles," Pearce said. "Marco did well. We hit the ball, we just didn't have timely hits. They didn't hit the ball that well and they had a couple of timely hits. That was the difference in the game and unfortunately it didn't fall our way tonight."

Angels lefty Andrew Heaney picked up the victory and ate up some valuable innings for his overworked bullpen. He allowed one run on nine hits while striking out four and not walking a single batter. Heaney has allowed three runs or less in three of his last four starts, while the Blue Jays' saw their struggles against left-handed starters continue. Toronto is just 9-20 in games started by a lefty this season, which includes losing 13 of the last 14.

Toronto has dropped 10 of its last 11 road games and are 14-21 away from home this season. The Blue Jays are 1-4 against the Angels in 2018 with a 5-13 record against the American League West. At the conclusion of this four-game series, Toronto's West Coast road trip continues with a three-game set in Houston.

"We threw some hits up there, we just couldn't get that big one," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Both pitchers pitched really well. Marco did a hell of a job. Heaney did a great job. It was one of those ballgames, a big hit could have made a difference."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Caught looking: The Blue Jays' best opportunity to even the score came in the top of the seventh after Travis hit an RBI double. Toronto had its much needed runner in scoring position and Pearce later followed with a line-drive single to center, but then Justin Smoak struck out looking and Yangervis Solarte grounded out to end the threat. Smoak took exception to the third-strike call, which appeared to be a little bit low and inside, and exchanged words with home-plate umpire Manny Gonzalez, but Smoak ultimately stayed in the game.

Video: TOR@LAA: Heaney gets Smoak looking in the 7th inning

The grab: Russell Martin thought he had extra bases in the top of the second when he sent a pitch from Heaney deep to left field. Justin Upton turned his back on the ball as he sprinted to the warning track, but he turned around just in time to make a leaping grab at the wall. Morales was forced to return to first base and the Blue Jays' threat came to an end in the next at-bat when Randal Grichuk hit into a fielder's choice.

Video: TOR@LAA: Upton makes catch while crashing into wall

SOUND SMART
The Blue Jays lost a game when allowing three or fewer hits for the first time since June 21, 2016, against Arizona. It's the first time it's happen on the road since May 27, 2007, at Minnesota.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Blue Jays won their challenge in the top of the seventh. With Travis on second base representing the potential tying run, Pearce hit a sinking line drive to center. Michael Hermosillo appeared to hesitate before running in and trying to come up with the sliding catch. There was some confusion on the field when the play unfolded because it took a few seconds before first-base umpire Andy Fletcher signalled the out call. Gibbons challenged and won, but Travis had to remain at second base where he would be later stranded.

"What happened is the guy on second base, if he thinks he's going to catch it, he has to head back to the bag," Gibbons said. "I'm sure they looked at it that way. That's not an easy call, first-base umpire has to go out. They got it right but we still only had one out and couldn't put that run across."

Video: TOR@LAA: Pearce singles after overturned call in 7th

UP NEXT
Right-hander Marcus Stroman (0-5, 7.71) will make his return from the 10-day disabled list when the Blue Jays continue their four-game series against the Angels on Saturday night, with first pitch scheduled for 9:07 p.m. ET. Stroman is coming off three rehab starts, including two simulated games, in the Minors, but he has not pitched for the Blue Jays since May 8 because of a right shoulder injury. The Angels will counter with right-hander Jaime Barria (5-3, 3.57).

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

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