TORONTO — First, the Blue Jays knocked Alex Cobb down Tuesday night.
Then they knocked the Rays right-hander out.
Cobb got struck in the right thigh by a liner from Jose Reyes, sparking a four-run, fifth-inning Toronto rally in the Rays' 9-6 loss at the Rogers Centre. Tampa Bay has dropped two in a row, outscored 19-11 by the first-place Jays, who are winners of eight straight and 11 of 12.
"They kind of outslugged us," manager Joe Maddon said. "Heavyweight match (Tuesday night). They won on cuts I think."
The Rays (23-30) have lost any momentum gained from their recent four-game winning streak, dropping back to seven games under .500 and a season-high eight games out of first.
"It's really frustrating," Cobb said. "When we start getting hot, pitching has got to stay hot with it, we can't take time off from each other. We've both got to start clicking at the same time. The past two nights haven't gone that way."
The good news for Tampa Bay was that Cobb was okay, staying in the game after Reyes' liner briefly put him on the turf. It could have been a lot worse, as Cobb knows well after getting struck in the head with a line drive last June 15, forcing him to miss six weeks with a concussion.
"I've had worse outcomes on comebackers," Cobb said. "You hope when it does happen it hits you in a meaty spot on the body, and this time it did."
After getting checked on by Maddon and the training staff, Cobb threw a few warmup pitches and was satisfied. He said his thigh felt tight but otherwise is fine, and it didn't affect him on the mound, nor did he think back to last June.
"Didn't even cross my mind," Cobb said.
But the Jays weren't done crossing the plate. Jose Bautista singled to score Reyes and break a tie at 2. Then Adam Lind hit a two-run homer and Edwin Encarnacion a solo shot to break it open against Cobb, who left after the fifth having allowed six runs on nine hits.
Maddon thought Cobb had good stuff. Cobb, looking back, said there weren't any pitches he would have redone.
"They're hot right now," Cobb said. "Sometimes you have to not look too much into something and understand these are big-league hitters at the top of their game. They're locked in."
Said Maddon: "Everything they've got going on right now seems to be working."
The game started as the pitcher's duel many expected between Cobb and left-hander Mark Buehrle, who has won nine of his first 11 starts. The two cruised through three, with Cobb breaking the club record for a starter with 242/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
The Rays got to Buehrle first, scoring twice in the fourth before Cobb gave the lead back in the bottom half. They scored five or more for the fourth straight game. But they are in danger of getting swept today before heading to Boston to face the rejuvenated Red Sox.
"Actually taking one out of three right now sounds very enticing," Maddon said. "So I'll take it."
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.