ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Toronto's league-best 11-game win streak ended on Monday night at Tropicana Field, and the Blue Jays found themselves right back where they started when their torrid run began: last place in the American League East.
But the run wasn't about nullifying a horrid start to the season, catcher J.P. Arencibia said. It was about finally showing what the Jays were capable of, even as they went 10-17 in April and 13-15 in May.
That, he said, was why Monday's 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays felt more like a momentary pause than the ending of a last gasp to save the season.
"We gave ourselves a chance," said the catcher, who produced two of the Blue Jays' four hits. "That's the biggest thing. In this game, that's why streaks like that are very few and far between. ... To go out on a streak like that, we had to believe we had it in us."
Three consecutive Rays homers in the second inning and the work of Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson took it out of the Blue Jays on Monday
Hellickson stifled a Toronto team that had out-bashed opponents with a league-high 29 home runs since June 2.
The victory helped the Rays (40-37) pull back out of the basement in the AL East.
Hellickson (6-3) won for the fourth time in his last five decisions, allowing a season-low one hit and four walks, which tied a season high. He struck out four in his seven innings of work. Fernando Rodney recorded his 16th save.
"He's getting better," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Hellickson. "He's looking more like he's supposed to, meaning fastball command, fastball down, changeup down."
The Jays' winning streak was the longest in the majors since the Detroit Tigers won 11 in a row in 2011. The Rays won for just the fifth time in 13 games.
"It's been a nice little streak, you know?" Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You knew it was going to happen sooner or later. The key is to just play good baseball, get back to playing good baseball, consistent baseball. I just told them 'good job.'"
The Rays took a 3-0 lead in the second inning on back-to-back-to-back homers off Blue Jays starter Esmil Rogers (3-3) as the right-hander, admittedly, became "afraid to throw my breaking pitches."
James Loney smashed his ninth of the season to right field -- on a change up -- with one out in the second before highly touted rookie Wil Myers -- making his first plate appearance at Tropicana Field after being called up last week -- hammered a 1-2 pitch over the center-field wall on a fastball. It was his second of the season.
Sam Fuld became the unlikely contributor to franchise history when he hit his second of the season to right on another fastball. The Rays had never homered in three consecutive at-bats at Tropicana Field.
"That is really cool to be a part of that," Myers said. "All of us put good swings on the ball right there."
Tampa Bay used a less prodigious hit to take a 4-0 lead in the third, as Luke Scott's bloop double to left field was left unattended long enough for Matt Joyce to score from second base. Joyce led off with a single and took second on a fielder's choice.
That was plenty for Hellickson, who did not allow a hit between a third-inning single by Arencibia and a strikeout of the catcher to end the seventh inning.
Toronto bunched two hits, a walk and an RBI fielder's choice from Jose Bautista off reliever Alex Torres to trim the deficit to three runs in the eighth. The run ended Torres' franchise-record, 25-inning scoreless streak.
Rogers allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in six innings. He had allowed four runs in his previous four starts combined.
NOTES: In his first media session since being struck in the head on June 15 by a line drive from the Royals' Eric Hosmer, Rays RHP Alex Cobb said he is confident he will return to the mound this season. However, he is still experiencing symptoms attributable to what was diagnosed as a mild concussion, including headaches, vertigo and nausea. ... Tampa Bay LHP David Price is expected to make his second rehab start for Class A Charlotte (Port Charlotte, Fla.) as he works back from a triceps strain that landed him on the disabled list May 16. ... Blue Jays DH Edwin Encarnacion had his bat fly into the seats behind the third base dugout twice during a first-inning strikeout (swinging, of course). He entered the night with 42 RBIs in his last 40 games. ... The previous time the Rays hit three consecutive homers was in 2008 at Angels Stadium (Evan Longoria, Willy Aybar and Dioner Navarro).