TORONTO — The Rays didn't do much wrong Thursday.
They just didn't do much.
A couple of two-out mistakes in the first by starter Matt Moore led to the only runs in the 2-0 loss to Toronto. And a debatable decision by Jeff Keppinger to bunt with two on and none out in the second turned out to backfire.
But otherwise, the issue, once again, was that they put nothing but zeroes on the scoreboard.
For third time in their past nine games, for the sixth time in their past 25, for the ninth time in 90 games, the Rays were shut out. Blanked. Goose-egged.
"We've played that story way too often," manager Joe Maddon said. "And we've got to get by it somehow."
Even with another new look to the lineup, with Luke Scott at first base and Carlos Peña on the bench, the results weren't any better. It was the major-league most 10th time they lost when allowing two or fewer runs.
The Rays (71-60) have lost five of six, dropping 4½ games behind the idle Yankees in the American League East, 2½ behind the A's and 1½ behind the Orioles in the wild-card race.
Getting in after 4 a.m. from Texas didn't help, but Maddon said he couldn't have foreseen another blanking coming.
But in six innings against Carlos Villanueva and three vs. relievers Darren Oliver, Brad Lincoln and Casey Janssen, the Rays had only one legit chance.
After Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce rapped back-to-back singles, Keppinger, one of the Rays' most productive hitters, decided to bunt on the first pitch, moving the runners up. But the next two Rays couldn't even put a fair ball into play. Scott popped out to the catcher, and Jose Lobaton took a third strike — the first of a team record-tying six consecutive strikeouts by the Rays.
Keppinger felt strongly it was the right play. Maddon did not.
"If I had to do it all over, I'd do it again," Keppinger said. "The guy hitting behind me (Scott) is leading our team in RBIs, ain't he? He drives in runs. We're down by two runs, putting him up there with men in scoring position seems like a good idea. I'm a contact hitter. I hit a lot of ground balls. Stay out of the double play, move the runners over, put them in scoring position, take a shot with our donkey. It didn't work out."
Maddon, who doesn't like the bunt much anyway, said he appreciated the team-first thinking, but not then: "In a moment like that with Kepp hitting, I would prefer that he swing."
Moore had to bear some blame, one strike away from a 1-2-3 first and instead allowing four straight Jays to reach, with a two-out walk, a single by lefty Adam Lind, a four-pitch walk to load the bases then a double by another lefty, Kelly Johnson.
"I felt like I was getting a little giddy, kind of jumping at the glove a little bit," Moore said. "Even with the bases loaded, we've got a lefty up to bat, that's favorable in our case, if you have to look at it like that, but I've got to be better than that to him. And not even get in that situation in the first place."
But, realistically, Maddon said, it wasn't his fault. "I can't really get on the young pitcher that gives up two runs in six innings," he said. "When you don't score any runs and you can't cover any mistakes then it becomes a little more glaring."
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.