SPORTS

Blue Jays fall apart in Tampa's six-run fifth inning, lose 7-1 to Rays

05/14/2012 10:36 EDT | Updated 07/14/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - The Tampa Bay Rays lost starting pitcher Jeff Niemann after one inning with a fracture in his right fibula on Monday.

But it didn't stop them from defeating the Toronto Blue Jays 7-1 as they took advantage of miscues, including an error by first baseman Adam Lind, and put up five unearned runs in a six-run fifth inning.

The Rays strung together eight solid innings from their bullpen after Niemann came out with the injury that resulted when Lind's first-inning groundout struck him that near the right ankle. The injury could keep him out at least four to six weeks.

"You always enjoy the win, but news like that is never good," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Left-hander Cesar Ramos (1-0) picked up his first major-league win by holding Toronto to two hits, three walks and one run in three innings.

"They threw the ball well," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "They threw strikes, they made quality pitches when needed and we really couldn't bunch too much together here offensively tonight."

Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow (4-2) did not allow a hit through the first four innings while protecting a 1-0 lead as he tried for his fifth consecutive win, but the game became unravelled in the fifth.

The key to the inning was an error charged to Lind on Matt Joyce’s grounder on what could have been the third out with the score 1-1.

That was followed immediately with a wild pitch that allowed Carlos Pena to reach first base on a strikeout.

Luke Scott followed with a two-run double and Sean Rodriguez hit a two-run single.

"That was a tough fifth," Morrow said. "Made some pitches to get out of it and they kind of went out and got some good fastballs that were a touch off the plate. A couple of good pieces of hitting there I guess and broke it open."

Ben Zobrist led off the ninth with his sixth homer of the season against reliever Carlos Villanueva.

"On a night when you're down a little bit offensively, that's where the pitching and defence has got to pick some things up and that wasn't the case tonight," Farrell said.

It was the second loss in a row for the Blue Jays (19-17) who opened a seven-game home stand after returning from a 5-5 trip. It was the second win in a row for the Rays (22-14).

Morrow, who allowed a total of two earned runs in his previous four starts, appeared on his way to another good outing but the right-hander ended up taking his first loss since April 18, also against the Rays.

The Blue Jays took the lead in the second inning.

Kelly Johnson drove in the run with a single against Ramos who allowed two-out walks to Colby Rasmus and J.P. Arencibia.

Will Rhymes ended Morrow's no-hitter in the fifth with a leadoff double, a slice down the left-field line. Elliot Johnson scored him with a one-out single to centre.

The Rays kept the inning going when Zobrist forced Johnson at second and B.J. Upton walked. Lind committed his second error of the game on Joyce’s grounder. Morrow took Lind’s throw at the bag and thought he had the out and ignored Zobrist who came around to score from second.

Maddon praised Joyce for beating the throw to first.

"He's just coming off a bad ankle too and to do what he did there to beat that out," Maddon said. "Up and down the line-up we had good at-bats."

The inning appeared to be over again when Pena struck out but he reached first base on the wild pitch. Scott singled in two runs and Rodriguez doubled in two more to make the score 6-1.

"The thing is in our game this happens to everybody every year and we've been bitten a little bit to this point but we've always talked about depth and we’ll figure out the next move," Maddon said.

The Rays also are without their star third baseman Evan Longoria who has a torn hamstring.

"We're constantly getting our depth tested," Maddon said.

"(Niemann) has been getting steadily better with what he's been doing, And he's one of our guys who when he gets on a roll he gets on this really good roll. The impact will be felt based on his replacement and the work that that person does."

Lind entered the game batting .464 (13-for-28) in his career against Niemann with three home runs and nine runs batted in against the right-hander. On that basis he was batting fourth after being dropped to eighth in the order for his previous four games.

Notes: Attendance at Rogers Centre was 15,289. ...Blue Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan has started a throwing program in Florida as he comes back from plantar fasciitis and a sore shoulder. ...Left-hander Evan Crawford pitched the seventh after the Blue Jays called him up from triple-A Las Vegas and sent right-hander Joel Carreno to double-A New Hampshire. ...Outfielder Travis Snider was 0-for-13 in his first four games at triple-A Las Vegas in his first four games after returning from a jammed right wrist. ...The Rays put outfielder Desmond Jennings (knee sprain) on the disabled list before Monday’s game and promoted outfielder Stephen Vogt. ...The Blue Jays will start Henderson Alvarez (3-2, 2.61 earned-run average) against left-hander David Price (5-2, 2.98 ERA) in Tuesday’s series finale.

MORE:cpSports