ST. PETERSBURG -- With all the Rays' recent problems -- including injuries like those to Jeff Keppinger, who broke his toe after a foul ball hit him while he was sitting in the dugout -- there's a feeling that the team can't catch a break.
The problems continued for Tampa Bay after the defense -- largely considered to be one of the stronger parts of the team -- committed three errors costing the team three unearned runs against Toronto in a 6-2 loss Monday at Tropicana Field in front of a crowd of 10,844. The loss was the Rays' fourth in their last five home games.
"It's just another one of those weird adventures we've been going through," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "The effort was great, we pitched really well, uncharacteristic mistakes on defense, and we've been leaving a lot of people on base, we have to drive them in."
Starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson went 7 1/3 innings giving up five runs -- two earned -- on eight hits with three strikeouts, but Toronto's Kyle Drabek was still able to best him, giving up just two runs despite allowing three hits, six walks and three wild pitches. Each time Drabek appeared to get himself in a jam, he would survive, as the Rays left eight men on base in the game and were just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
"He didn't break, I'll give him that," Maddon said of Drabek. "Obviously his makeup must be pretty good because he battled through those moments really well. He made a couple big pitches that got some outs."
The game went Tampa Bay's way early on when B.J. Upton started the scoring in the first on a home run assisted by Tropicana Field itself. Upton drove a ball to deep center field where Colby Rasmus appeared to be under it. The ball hit a suspended object as the ball landed a few feet in front of him. Ground rules state that a ball hitting one of the catwalks is a home run, and after a nearly five-minute delay, Upton was awarded his third homer of the season.
"When he threw his hands up, I knew it hit the catwalk, and I know the rules in here," Upton joked.
Toronto would tie it in the top of the second thanks to a Rays error. Jays designated hitter J.P. Arencibia hit a grounder to third base where Sean Rodriguez scooped it up and threw to second for the forceout, but Will Rhymes relay throw wasn't handled by Carlos Pena as Arencibia advanced to second. Eric Thames then hit a line drive to center field and Upton's throw went wide, scoring Arencibia.
The Blue Jays scored again to take a 2-1 lead in the third after Kelly Johnson hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring home Rasmus, who doubled two batters earlier. The advantage would not last long as Tampa Bay would strike back in the bottom of the inning, due in large part to control issues by Drabek. He earned a quick out but then walked Matt Joyce and after a wild pitch, Joyce was at second base. Pena would then strike out, but during Scott's at-bat, Drabek threw another wild pitch, allowing Joyce to advance again. Rodriguez would then single in Joyce to even up the score.
"One was a changeup, one was a curveball and I think the other was a fastball," Drabek said about the wild pitches. "In the fourth, fifth and sixth is when I was able to throw it higher and have it sink down instead of throwing it low and have it sink to the ground."
In the top of the sixth, Toronto would strike back. After Johnson popped out to start the inning, Yunel Escobar hit a ball to deep left-center field that cleared the fence, making the score 3-2. The home run was the second on the season for Escobar.
"That was a hanging changeup and Escobar hit it," Maddon said. "He just got it up in his eyes and he hit it."
The Blue Jays added three more runs in the eighth thanks to more defensive problems from the Rays. With two men on, Escobar reached base on a throwing error by pitcher Burke Badenhop, which was followed in the next at-bat by a throwing error by Rodriguez that allowed Rasmus and Johnson to score. Edwin Encarnacion then grounded into a fielder's choice, bringing in Jose Bautista.
"The defensive miscues certainly played into that three-run inning," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "But at this point, we'll take that."
Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.