August 22, 2014 10:12 pm

Blue Jays kick off key nine-game homestand with blowout loss to Rays

Steve Tolleson #18 of the Toronto Blue Jays gets the force out at second base but cannot turn the double play in the fifth inning during MLB game action as Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays slides into second base on August 22, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)


TORONTO – Tampa Bay’s Drew Smyly threw a two-hit shutout and Evan Longoria homered and drove in three runs as the Rays dumped the Blue Jays 8-0 on Friday night.

Wil Myers also went deep as the Rays pounded out 14 hits on a comfortable summer evening at Rogers Centre.

Toronto (65-63) entered the opening game of a nine-game homestand four games behind the Detroit Tigers, who were a half-game up on Seattle in the race for the second American League wild-card spot.

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Longoria took Marcus Stroman’s first pitch in the second inning over the wall to give Tampa Bay an early 1-0 lead. It was his 16th homer of the season.

The Rays scratched out another run in the fourth when Myers led off with a walk and stole second. He took third on a wild pitch and scored when Kevin Kiermaier drove a ball into shallow centre field.

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Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus was rather nonchalant on the play and Kiermaier turned first base with a full head of steam and was safe at second as the throw was off the mark.

Tampa Bay took advantage of some suspect defence again in the fifth inning. Matt Joyce led off with a double on a ball that bounced off right-fielder Jose Bautista’s glove as he tried to make a running catch at the warning track.

Longoria walked and James Loney followed with a grounder to short that should have been a double-play ball. Second baseman Steve Tolleson had to rush with Longoria coming in hard and his throw to first was in the dirt, allowing Joyce to score.

The Rays drove Stroman (7-5) from the game in the sixth after he gave up three straight singles. Reliever Aaron Loup didn’t fare much better.

Loup gave up an RBI single, a fielder’s choice to load the bases and a double to Longoria that brought two more runs home. The Blue Jays finally got out of the jam when Yunel Escobar grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.

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Stroman allowed 10 hits, five earned runs, three walks and had six strikeouts.

Smyly (8-10), meanwhile, was in top form. He allowed a single to Jose Reyes in the first inning and a single to Tolleson in the third before retiring the next 19 batters in order.

The Rays loaded the bases in the seventh before Toronto reliever Kyle Drabek caught Longoria looking for a strikeout. Myers tacked on an insurance run in the eighth with a solo shot off Todd Redmond.

Tampa Bay left 12 men on base while Toronto left just one. Announced attendance was 28,506 and the game took two hours 45 minutes to play.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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