TORONTO -- The Rays have lost just one season series to the Blue Jays since 2007. They might be closing in on making sure that streak does not end any time soon.Tampa Bay's lineup erupted for nine runs and lefty Drew Smyly continued his recent turnaround by allowing two runs
TORONTO -- The Rays have lost just one season series to the Blue Jays since 2007. They might be closing in on making sure that streak does not end any time soon.
Tampa Bay's lineup erupted for nine runs and lefty Drew Smyly continued his recent turnaround by allowing two runs over six strong innings in a 9-2 victory over Toronto on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre. The Rays lead the season series against Toronto, 7-5, with seven games remaining.
The Blue Jays remained in a virtual tie with the Orioles, who lost to the A's, 2-1, on Tuesday, for the American League East lead, but trail by two percentage points. Toronto leads the Red Sox by 1 1/2 games for the first Wild Card.
• Forsythe tormenting Blue Jays' pitchers
Six players in the Rays' starting lineup had at least two hits. Logan Forsythe led off the game with a homer as he finished 3-for-6 with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored. Evan Longoria also enjoyed a three-hit night with three RBIs and Tampa Bay scored nine or more runs for the second time this month.
Veteran right-hander Marco Estrada took the loss for Toronto after he allowed three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits and four walks, which matched his season high.
• Estrada adjusting to six-man rotation
"Nice bounce-back win against a very difficult pitcher throughout the league, and obviously he's made it difficult for us," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Estrada lost for the second time in his last four decisions, but he did not receive much help from his bullpen as Danny Barnes and Scott Feldman combined to allow six runs in relief. Barnes was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo after the game.
"It's just one of those days," Estrada said. "It's a good team over there, but we didn't play as well as we could have. I thought a lot of things went their way, and obviously, I didn't pitch a good game. I've got to be better. I can't just go five innings. My goal is always to try to finish the game, or at least give as many innings as possible, and it just wasn't enough today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Adding on: The Rays built a 3-0 lead before the Blue Jays scored twice in the fifth. What did the Rays do? They got back to work, answering with two in the sixth on an RBI double by Longoria and an RBI single by Mikie Mahtook. They kept the pedal to the metal in the seventh when Forsythe singled a run home, Kevin Kiermaier doubled home another, and Longoria singled home two to cap a four-run inning.
"When they had a little bit of a comeback there, we were able to tack on some more runs and separate," Longoria said. "So it was a good win for us."
Coming up empty: The Blue Jays were trailing by three in the bottom of the sixth, but were presented with a prime opportunity to get back into the game. Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion led off with singles, while Russell Martin followed with a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Cash decided to stick with Smyly and the move paid off when Troy Tulowitzki popped out to first, Michael Saunders struck out and Justin Smoak popped out to the catcher. Toronto finished 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"That's the difference maker right there," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You come back and put a couple more up, and who knows how things change? Last night, too, we had the bases loaded, and then we got that big two-out hit by Devon Travis. We're putting guys on base -- we had some traffic. We're just looking for that big blow."
Sweet 4-6-3: Smyly had posted four scoreless innings when he got into trouble in the fifth, allowing back-to-back singles to Tulowitzki and Saunders before he walked Smoak to load the bases with no outs. Melvin Upton Jr.'s sacrifice fly -- his first RBI with the Blue Jays -- scored Tulowitzki and a Travis single drove home Saunders. But before things got worse, they got better for Smyly, who got José Bautista to ground to second. Forsythe flipped to shortstop Tim Beckham, who threw to first. New first baseman Brad Miller made a nice scoop of Beckham's one-hopper to complete the twin killing.
"I was just trying to get an out," said Smyly when asked if he was going for a ground ball. "I wanted to kind of go right at him and challenge him. Fastball in. He put a good swing on it. I got the ground ball on Saunders a couple of batters before, it just got through the four hole. Luckily, Bautista hit it right at Logan and they were able to turn it."
Sloppy defense: Toronto has a reputation of being one of the better defensive teams in the league, but the Blue Jays were anything but that on Tuesday. In the third inning, Bautista fell down while attempting to throw the ball back into the infield and allowed Luke Maile to advance to third instead of stopping at second. In the fourth, Forsythe hit an infield single to Travis, who then made a throwing error on the play and allowed Corey Dickerson to score. There were even more issues in the seventh when Martin threw a ball down the first-base line after a swinging bunt by Mahtook, but Mahtook was called out for obstructing the throw as Toronto caught a break.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Smyly has four wins this season and two of them have come against the Blue Jays. Smyly also picked up the victory on May 16 in Toronto after he allowed one runs over five innings.
A crew-chief review took place in the fifth inning when Beckham went deep -- but just foul, down the left-field line. After a 33-second delay, the foul call was confirmed.
Rays: Blake Snell (3-4, 2.95 ERA) makes his 11th start in Wednesday's rubber game at 7:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. He's been on a roll in his last five starts, going 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA, including three quality starts. This will be his first career appearance against the Blue Jays.
Blue Jays: Left-hander J.A. Happ (15-3, 3.09 ERA) will take the mound for the Blue Jays in the finale against the Rays. Happ became the first 15-game winner in the American League during his last start and has not picked up a loss since June 6.
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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.