TORONTO — Woah, Canada.
The Rays headed north of the border on a pretty good high, having won four straight, including an eventful weekend sweep of the Red Sox. But they were brought back to earth by the red-hot first-place Blue Jays in a 10-5 loss Monday night at the Rogers Centre.
"They outpunched us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "They got us in the corners, kept us on the ropes, and didn't let us up."
Toronto, winner of seven in a row and 10 of 11, moved seven games in front of the fourth-place Rays (23-29), the only American League East team to lose Monday.
Even the reeling Red Sox snapped a 10-game losing streak with a come-from-behind win over the Braves, overcoming a five-run deficit.
The Rays were in trouble from the start Monday. Veteran left-hander Erik Bedard, who had been one of the team's most consistent pitchers, had his worst outing as a Ray, allowing a season-high eight runs and a career-high 13 hits in just four innings. Bedard, an Ottawa-area native pitching in front of about 10 family and friends, gave up hits to the first five hitters he faced, with the Jays going 13-for-24 against him overall.
"You're facing a hot team and they're hitting every hole and everything was going their way," Bedard said. "They had a good approach and did their job."
Both Maddon and Bedard thought his stuff was about the same as it has been during his strong stretch. But Bedard, who gave up one homer in his first 372/3 innings this season, surrendered two on back-to-back pitches in the fourth, including one to ex-Ray Dioner Navarro.
Bedard was mostly disappointed that, after the Rays rallied to tie the score in the third and fifth, he gave the lead back.
"That's always the frustrating part," Bedard said. "The team scores some runs for you and you can't keep the damage (down). But it happens."
Maddon has said that the Rays have needed their offense to overcome a rough outing by a starter, and the bats did their job. They racked up 10 hits, one by every starter except catcher Ryan Hanigan, who was replaced in the sixth when his sore right hamstring bothered him.
Desmond Jennings, surprised to start at cleanup for the first time in his career, said he didn't believe James Loney when he told him before the game. But Jennings acted like he belonged, ripping the first of back-to-back homers with Loney in the fifth to tie it.
"Told Loney we were going to go back-to-back," said Jennings, who usually hits behind Loney. "But I didn't think it'd be me hitting the first one."
Right-hander Alex Colome, activated from suspension and called up Monday to provide potential length as a reliever, did just that, saving the bullpen by throwing four innings. He allowed two runs on three hits and three walks before getting sent back down to Triple-A Durham after the game.
But the damage had already been done. While the Jays' main sluggers, including Melky Cabrera (three hits, three RBIs) and Edwin Encarnacion (three hits, including 13th homer in May), did their job, it was the 6-through-9 hitters who surprisingly added six hits (and two homers).
"You're going to get beat up on top," Maddon said. "But if you get beat up on the bottom, it becomes more difficult."
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TBTimes_JSmith.