TORONTO -- To say the Blue Jays starters have been a disappointment all season would be an understatement. Friday's performance from Esmil Rogers did little to sway that thought.
Rogers had another sub-par outing, as the former reliever has been roughed up for much of the past month.
The 27-year-old struggled through three innings, allowing seven earned runs and giving up three homers, as the Blue Jays were handled by the Athletics, 14-6, at Rogers Centre in the opener of a four-game set.
"Really frustrating. I don't throw that way," Rogers said.
The right-hander was hit hard and often, and had the Blue Jays in an early hole. Rogers served up back-to-back home runs to Jed Lowrie (a three-run shot) and Yoenis Cespedes before he even recorded an out.
Lowrie hit a laser into the first deck, while Cespedes just cleared the fence in left.
Rogers also allowed a pair of runs in the second and another in the third to cap his forgettable night and shortest start of the season. Among them was the first of three home runs by Josh Reddick, who became the first Athletic in nine years to hit three homers in a game.
"I'm happy for him," Lowrie said. "Hopefully that kind of gets him going. He should be proud of himself, because three home runs in a big league game is pretty impressive."
Part of the problem for Rogers came from his inability to trust his secondary pitches.
"I can't even use my breaking pitch, because I can't even throw it for a strike," Rogers said. "When I'm only using my fastball [it hurts, because] everybody can hit the fastball at this level."
"It had good action on it, but like I said, just inconsistent -- in and out of the strike zone a little bit," Toronto catcher Josh Thole said of Rogers' breaking ball.
Friday's start was another tough outing that has become much more frequent of late for Rogers. After pitching well in his first six turns through the rotation, the righty has come back to Earth in a big way.
His ERA has jumped to 5.12 on the season, and he has allowed 20 earned runs in his last 12 1/3 innings. Over his last seven starts, Rogers is 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP.
"We're scrambling there, too," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "He's not in the strike zone as much, that's pretty obvious. They're barreling them up. They're not missing anything right now. …It's kind of like with Josh Johnson … he's battling trying to figure out what it is."
Friday's outing also continued a season-long trend of short outings for the club's starters. The Blue Jays' pitching rotation had the second least amount of innings in the Majors, and had the second worst ERA prior to Rogers' rough night.
"It's definitely been happening too often," Gibbons said of the rough starts. "It makes it tough for the guys in the field. You start and you look up there [at the scoreboard] and you're down three, four, five runs early in the game. It's a tough climb back."
By the time Rogers had left the game, despite a three-run Blue Jays' second, Toronto trailed 7-3, and was down by six before coming to the plate in the second.
"It's tough anytime you're playing from behind," Thole said. "But again, that's how this game goes. When we were on that good run we were able to take the lead early, so it goes hand in hand. But definitely when you're playing from behind it makes it tough."
Toronto's brief comeback attempt was spurred by Brett Lawrie. The 23-year-old continued his hot-hitting, extending his career-best hitting streak to 11 with a double to center field that scored Colby Rasmus from first.
That was followed by a pair of RBI hits from Emilio Bonifacio and Jose Reyes.
But that was all the offense the Blue Jays would mount outside of a pair of home runs in the eighth -- Jose Bautista's 26th of the year and Rasmus' two-run shot -- with the team trailing by 11 runs.
Add that to a tiring bullpen that allowed seven earned runs, and it made for an easy victory for Oakland, which snapped a three-game skid.
Among those seven runs were five earned by Juan Perez. Perez came into the game in the sixth and allowed Reddick's third home run. But the lefty left in the middle of the seventh inning with an elbow injury.
The Blue Jays fell to 8-13 since the All-Star break.
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.