TORONTO (AP)—Shaun Marcum gave Toronto another outstanding pitching performance and the Blue Jays feeble offense gave the right-hander some runs to work with for a change.
Marcum (4-2) walked one and matched a season-high by striking out nine, allowing two runs in 8 2-3 innings. He won back-to-back starts for the first time this season and lowered his ERA to 2.59.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Marcum was “dominating.”
“I can’t say it really surprises me anymore,” Gibbons said. “He goes out there and gives you some kind of effort every night.”
The right-hander got two quick outs in the ninth before Akinori Iwamura singled down the third-base line and Carl Crawford reached on an infield chopper. B.J. Upton followed with a two-run double to center, ending Marcum’s chance for his first career complete game.
“That’s the first time Gibby has sent me out for the ninth,” Marcum said. “I was excited to go back out there and the fans were behind me. I wish I could have got it done.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon held a closed-door meeting with Pena after the game, urging him not to chase pitches he can’t handle.
“I just think he’s out of the zone a little bit,” Maddon said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his swing, per se. It’s just that he’s opening up and swinging at too many pitches.”
The Rays didn’t put another man on base until Upton drew a two-out walk in the seventh. Upton stole second but Pena ended the inning by grounding out.
Leading 1-0 through seven, the Blue Jays broke it open with a bat-around, five-run eighth against three Tampa Bay relievers, giving Marcum a well-deserved cushion.
“It’s a little frustrating going out there in the sixth and seventh inning and its still 0-0,” Marcum said. “It’s nice to get a little breathing room.”
Trever Miller came on and struck out Matt Stairs before walking Vernon Wells and giving up a double to Lyle Overbay. Jason Hammel replaced Miller but allowed run-scoring singles to Aaron Hill, Rod Barajas and Marco Scutaro, who was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Toronto came in having gone 20 games without scoring more than five runs, last doing so in an 11-3 win at Baltimore on April 15. No American League team has had such a streak since the 2002 Detroit Tigers went 24 games without scoring more than five runs.
“It’s been a while,” Rolen said. “We’re still putting some pressure on the staff. It would nice to be a little more consistent through the game and hopefully that’s coming.”
The Blue Jays have used 29 different batting lineups in 35 games in a bid to spark their stagnant offense.
“The lineup has bounced around a little bit and I’m sure it’s going to bounce around a little more,” Rolen said. “The idea is to put runs on the board and we haven’t done that.”
Rays starter Matt Garza (1-1) had to deal with baserunners in four of his first six innings, but didn’t give up a run until the seventh, when Scutaro singled home Hill. Garza walked three and only 56 of his 109 pitches were for strikes.
“My ball-to-strike ratio wasn’t exactly what I wanted but I got the outs when I had to and made the pitches when I had to,” Garza said.
Notes: Rays LHP Scott Kazmir worked on his mechanics in a bullpen session after struggling in his season debut Sunday at Boston. Kazmir, who suffered a strained elbow in February, allowed four runs in four innings against the Red Sox, but impressed pitching coach Jim Hickey in his session Wednesday. … The Blue Jays purchased the contract of INF Jorge Velandia and demoted OF Adam Lind to Triple-A. The move provides cover for shortstops David Eckstein and John McDonald, who were both injured Tuesday. So far, neither has been placed on the DL.