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Rare errors doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- The Tampa Bay Rays are about playing good defense to support strong pitching.

But the defensive part of their game took a night off on Friday and it cost the Rays as they battle for an American League wild-card spot.

They made a season-high three errors and the Toronto Blue Jays took advantage of to score a 6-3 victory to snap the Rays' seven-game winning streak.

R.A. Dickey (14-13) allowed five hits, including home runs by Ben Zobrist and Delmon Young, and two runs in 7 1/3 innings to win for the fifth time in his past six decisions.

"We just didn't play well tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It's one of those games. We've been on a pretty good run. Go get a good night's sleep and come back tomorrow."

The Rays (90-70), who entered the game occupying the American League's first wild-card spot, had made only 56 errors on the season before Friday. Only Baltimore (52) had made fewer in the majors this season.

Two of the errors led to three unearned runs in the Blue Jays' four-run fourth.

"That doesn't happen too often to them; they take away hits," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "That's one of their strengths, they have great pitching and they're a great defensive team. That happens in baseball sometimes. It's a little different surface here than in Tampa. That's an aberration."

The Blue Jays (73-87), who had lost two in a row, equaled their win total of last season by taking the opener of their season-ending three-game series before a Rogers Centre crowd of 27,288.

Tampa Bay right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (12-10) retired the first nine batters before the Blue Jays scored six runs against him (three earned) with six hits and two walks. Hellickson struck out five in 4 2/3 innings.

"Helly had really good stuff," Maddon said.

The Blue Jays made two errors of their own in the eighth -- by shortstop Jose Reyes and Dickey -- as the Rays loaded the bases with one out after a walk to Zobrist. But Sergio Santos replaced Dickey and with one pitch induced James Loney to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Santos stayed in for the ninth to pick up his first save of the season despite giving up a run on a single by Evan Longoria and a two-out double to Kelly Johnson.

The Rays broke out to a 2-0 lead with homers by Zobrist in the first and Young in the second.

"I gave up a lot of home runs (35 in 34 starts), a lot more than I anticipated giving up," Dickey said. "I need to make sure they're solo shots so I have to limit my walks. I feel this year is really an anomaly.

"There are a lot of positives I'd like to take out of the last three months. I did a pretty good job of growing over the season."

"He got off to a shaky start, a couple of home runs and then he settled in," Gibbons said." He had a good year, it was his 14th win and for a team below .500 you'll take that. He finished strong, made all his starts, good job."

The Blue Jays took a 4-2 lead in the fourth.

Reyes led off with a single and Munenori Kawasaki sacrificed him to second. Brett Lawrie reached first on an error by Longoria.

"I had an uncharacteristically sloppy game," said Longoria who made two errors at third base. "Unfortunately they (the errors) came back to bite us."

Moises Sierra and Anthony Gose then hit RBI singles to tie the score. Ryan Goins singled to center with two out, and Sam Fuld was charged with an error as the ball went past him. Two runs scored on the play, and Goins was thrown out at home. Only one of the runs in the inning was earned.

"I think I just took my eye off it just a second too early," Fuld said. "You can't really imagine a worse scenario as an outfielder. I don't think we're going to lose too much sleep over it. We know we're a really good defensive team."

The Blue Jays extended the lead to 6-2 lead with two runs in the fifth.

NOTES: Young's homer was No. 100 of his career. ... Loney entered Friday with a major league best batting average in road games at .363 (95-for-262). Angels OF Mike Trout was at .329 and Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera at .325 to rank second and third. ... Blue Jays DH Adam Lind (back tightness) remains day to day. ... Lawrie was hit in the mouth by a pitch from RHP Roberto Hernandez in the seventh and bled, but stayed in the game until the ninth when he was removed as a precaution. ... Jays OF Rajai Davis is on paternity leave with his wife expecting their first child. ....RHP Chris Archer (9-7, 3.21 ERA), a rookie-of-the-year candidate, will start the second game of the series on Saturday for the Rays against Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (4-7, 4.85).
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