The Toronto Blue Jays haven't been able to break out of their August slump, though a home series against the AL East-worst Boston Red Sox brings reason for optimism.
The Blue Jays look to begin a turnaround Monday night when they go after their seventh consecutive victory against the Red Sox, who have lost eight in a row overall and could be without David Ortiz.
Drew Hutchison provided a rare solid pitching performance Sunday, but Toronto (66-64) suffered its 14th loss in 20 games this month, 2-1 in 10 innings to visiting Tampa Bay.
Evan Longoria singled home the go-ahead run in the 10th as the Blue Jays fell short of their second series win in August.
"We gotta ... I don't know, just find a way," Monday's starter J.A. Happ told MLB's official website. "It starts with pitching."
Though Toronto's starters have posted a 5.50 ERA this month, Hutchison gave the club something to build on by allowing one run over six innings Sunday.
Now Happ (8-8, 4.39 ERA) will try to avoid his fourth straight defeat after giving up four runs over 3 1-3 innings in Tuesday's 6-1 loss at Milwaukee. He may be able to regroup at home, where he's 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA in his last four starts.
The left-hander has pitched well against the Red Sox (56-74), going 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four starts over the past two seasons. He's won both meetings in 2014, allowing four runs over five innings in a May road win before throwing six shutout innings in a 7-3 home victory in July.
Mike Napoli is 4 for 9 lifetime when facing Happ, but hitless in six at-bats since missing three games with back spasms. Allen Craig is 6 for 10 with two home runs in the matchup and was 2 for 4 in Sunday's 8-6 home loss to Seattle.
Ortiz has batted .171 versus Toronto this season, but has five homers and 10 RBIs. The veteran slugger, however, could be held out after fouling a ball off his right foot in his third plate appearance and leaving in the sixth inning.
That doesn't bode well for a Boston team trying to avoid its ninth straight defeat after losing 10 in a row earlier this season.
The Red Sox have dropped Clay Buchholz's last six starts while he's gone 0-3 with a 7.05 ERA. The right-hander allowed six runs over six innings in an 8-3 home loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.
"For us to snap out of where we are, this is going to come from us on the mound," manager John Farrell said.
Buchholz (5-8, 5.94) is 10-8 with a 3.18 ERA in 21 career starts against the Blue Jays, but he's 1-3 with a 7.15 mark in his four matchups this season. He's split his two meetings at Rogers Centre, allowing three runs over seven innings in a 7-6 win April 26 before giving up five over six in a 6-4 loss July 23.
Edwin Encarnacion had been 1 for 21 against Buchholz before hitting two home runs in three at-bats against him this season. He's also batting .375 with four homers and 11 RBIs in this season series.
The Blue Jays have averaged 6.2 runs and hit .302 with 19 home runs while winning 10 of the 13 meetings.
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