Happ struggles in first start in three months
Lefty allows six earned runs; Encarnacion hits 30th homer
SEATTLE -- The Blue Jays were on track to put together a four-game winning streak and close out a West Coast swing within striking distance of a .500 record.
But then the Mariners scored six runs in the fifth inning to take a lead Toronto could not overcome on Wednesday afternoon, as the Blue Jays ended a 10-game road trip with a 9-7 loss in front of 34,792 at Safeco Field.
"It turned out to be a solid road trip," manager John Gibbons said. "It could have been a real good road trip."
In his first start since being struck in the head with a line drive on May 7, Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ was given seven runs of support in the first three innings. Happ was able to keep the Mariners to three runs through four innings, but the southpaw was unable to get an out in the fifth. He left with the bases loaded, having already surrendered a run in the frame.
Aaron Loup came in and induced Michael Saunders' RBI groundout to cut Toronto's lead to 7-5. Justin Smoak followed with a scorching double off the top of the wall in center to tie the game, and two batters later, Humberto Quintero gave the Mariners the lead with a two-run homer into the Seattle bullpen.
"[They] got a couple guys on, we got Loup going right away," Gibbons said. "The problem is, you don't get an out. That was on my mind, we wanted to get Loupy ready. You still got to get more than four innings out of a guy, anyway, otherwise ... It's too bad."
Happ threw 99 pitches in four-plus innings. The left-hander allowed seven runs (six earned) on seven hits and three walks. Loup was tagged with the loss after allowing both runs that scored on Quintero's home run.
"Scored seven runs early and I wasn't able to keep us holding on to that," Happ said. "Not the way I would have written it up, and not what I was hoping for, but looking forward to the next one already."
The Blue Jays took a 5-2 lead in the second. Brett Lawrie started the Toronto rally with a ground ball through the right side to score Edwin Encarnacion from second. Two batters later, Josh Thole, who entered the game hitting .098, dumped a ground-rule double down the left-field line to score another two.
Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio followed with an RBI groundout and a run-scoring bunt single, respectively, to cap the Toronto scoring in the second.
Encarnacion and Adam Lind hit back-to-back home runs to lead off the third. Encarnacion's shot, which landed several rows deep in the upper deck in left, was his 30th of the year, the second most he's had in a single season after hitting 42 last season.
The power surge bounced Seattle starter Aaron Harang from the game after two-plus innings. Harang allowed seven runs on five hits and three walks. Brandon Maurer worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings, despite allowing three hits and five walks, in relief to improve to 3-7.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out in the sixth and put two runners in scoring position in the eighth, but failed to score, as the Mariners bullpen guided Seattle through seven scoreless innings. Danny Farquhar allowed a ninth-inning single to snap his streak of 21 consecutive batters retired, but recovered for his third save.
" It was outstanding, every one of us went in there and got the job done to keep the team in the game," said reliever Charlie Furbush, who helped the Mariners escape a bases-loaded jam in the sixth. "We were down there early, but our offense, I've got to tip my cap to them. They played so well and gave us a chance to win the game, and we just did what we did down there in the bullpen and tried to pitch the best we can."
Toronto has a day off before returning home for a seven-game homestand. The Blue Jays are expected to find out on Thursday if catcher J.P. Arencibia will be able to play soon. Arencibia aggravated a sore right knee and was a late scratch.