ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.
Kevin Pillar's eighth inning homer off RHP Tommy Hunter broke a 6-6 tie in a game the Jays led 5-0 after two innings.
"I bounced the next one, but in this game you don't get any do-overs," Hunter said. "(Stinks) to be in that position. I didn't get it where I wanted to go, and he just clipped."
The Rays (62-66) began the day four games out of the last wild-card spot in the American League.
The Jays and Rays combined for nine home runs, tying the Rays' team record for most home runs in a game.
The Jays hit six home runs, with three coming in the second inning off rookie RHP Austin Pruitt.
"If we don't keep the ball in the ballpark, we're not going to win," manager Kevin Cash said.
Kevin Kiermaier (two) and Steven Souza Jr. homered for the Rays.
The Rays tied the score in the seventh when Kiermaier scored on an infield single by Evan Longoria.
Pillar broke the tie the next inning with his leadoff homer.
"That home run was not the issue," Cash said. "It's the other ones that lead up to it."
Kiermaier had the second two-home run game of his career.
He homered to center off RHP Marcus Stroman with Adeiny Hechavarria on in the third, then drilled a ball to the back of the rightfield seats in the fifth.
His first two-homer game came Sept. 8, 2016 at the Yankees.
Kiermaier is 10-for-12 since coming off the disabled list.
The Rays optioned RHP Chase Whitley and RHP Andrew Kittredge after the game and reinstated RHP Alex Cobb from the 10-day disabled list. The Rays recalled RHP Chih-Wei Hu. Kittredge was recalled Wednesday after INF Trevor Plouffe was designated for assignment to serve as insurance if Pruitt had a short outing. He and Whitley both pitched 1? innings in place of Pruitt.
A silver lining
Cobb returns this afternoon after missing three starts because of turf toe. He said the layoff was longer than he expected but also said it was welcomed.
With his innings pitched this season at 147, the time on the disabled list was a welcomed break for Cobb, who missed nearly all of the past two seasons because of Tommy John surgery. "(It's) kind of blessing in disguise," he said. "Coming back from Tommy John it's been pretty well-documented that you try to limit your innings and be smart on that front. We knew that was kind of hovering us this whole time, so that takes any of the thought away getting latter into September.
"Hopefully we're right there in the thick of things that last week of September. The last thing we would want to be thinking about is innings limit and stuff like that, so that takes that burden away."
Down on the farm
RHP Matt Andriese made the second of what is expected to be three minor-league rehab starts Wednesday, throwing 4? innings for Triple-A Durham.
Andriese allowed a run on five hits. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.
With a win against visiting Gwinnett, the Bulls would clinch the International League South title.
Number of the day
8 Home runs in 12 games against the Rays this season by Blue Jays 3B Josh Donaldson.