Blue Jays topped by Phillies in 9th inning
Jose Bautista gave the Toronto Blue Jays a glimpse of a big victory before shoddy defence took it away.
The Philadelphia Phillies used a two-run single by Ryan Howard in the ninth inning to edge Toronto 7-6 on Friday.
It spoiled Canada Day for a big crowd poised for victory after Bautista's 25th homer of the season scored two runs in the seventh to give the Blue Jays a 6-5 lead.
The result was not the only pain suffered by Toronto. Shortstop Yunel Escobar left the game in the first inning after being hit on the left hand by a pitch from Kyle Kendrick.
X-rays and a scan revealed no fracture, but a swollen hand means Escobar is day-to-day.
Later in the day the Blue Jays continued to make mistakes on all levels in the field.
There are the more subtle mistakes, the instances of a lack of execution on certain plays that are far too common.
Then there are the full-blown blunders like the one committed by left-fielder Juan Rivera in the ninth.
He misplayed Chase Utley's fly ball to the warning track into a double that compounded the leadoff walk allowed by closer Frank Francisco (1-4) to Placido Polanco.
It set the stage for Howard's game-winning hit when the Blue Jays pitched to him with first base open. It was Francisco's fourth blown save in 13 chances.
"Against a team as good as Philly is, or really any other team at this level, when you give them extra outs in an inning you're kind of asking for trouble," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "To their credit they took advantage of the opportunities that we brought them."
Poor outfield defence contributed to both losses against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the previous series, and moving Bautista, the team's best player, from right field to third base has not helped the problem in the outfield. This time it was the Phillies who benefited.
"This year we haven't been used to scoring six or seven runs, every now and again we do," Phillies anager Charlie Manuel said.
It does not get easier for the Blue Jays. They face their former ace Roy Halladay on Saturday followed by Cliff Lee on Sunday.
"We've got to regroup," Farrell said. "We've got to play more consistent defence, we've got to execute better and more consistently from the mound regardless of who's pitching against us."
Danys Baez (2-3) pitched the eighth to earn the victory. Eric Thames also homered against Kendrick, who gave up eight hits and six runs in seven innings.
Bautista's homer with two out in the bottom of the seventh gave the Blue Jays (40-43) the lead after the Phillies (52-31) had gone ahead 5-4 in the top of the inning.
Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero's string of going at least seven innings in nine consecutive starts ended when he was lifted after a one-out single in the seventh. Romero allowed seven hits, four walks and four runs (three earned).
"We did everything offensively to win the game," Romero said. "It falls on me. Those innings where we scored runs and I didn't come up with the shut down inning. It was just an uphill battle for me all day. I couldn't really get into a rhythm all day, but I battled through and got into the seventh inning."
Escobar started Toronto's two-run rally in the first when he was hit by a pitch on the left hand. Aaron Hill, who was not in the starting lineup, ran for Escobar.
Bautista hit a one-out, ground-rule double to move Hill to third. After Adam Lind popped out, Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run double.
The Phillies got one back in the second on Shane Victorino's single and Francisco's double.
Romero hit Utley with a pitch with one out in the third to set up the tying run. Hill booted Howard's potential double-play grounder, and Victorino singled to score Utley.
The Blue Jays took a 4-2 lead in the fifth on Thames' second career major-league home run, a drive off the facing of the third deck in right that followed Hill's one-out single. The rookie outfielder hit his first homer on Tuesday against Pittsburgh.
The Phillies cut the lead to one in the sixth when Carlos Ruiz singled after Domonic Brown's leadoff double. They took the lead in the seventh, started by Howard's single that could have been scored an error on McDonald. As shortstop he had moved to the right side of the infield as part of the shift on the left-handed hitting Howard.
Jason Frasor replaced Romero and gave up Victorino's game-tying triple before Ben Francisco's sacrifice fly to left put Philadelphia ahead 5-4.
The Blue Jays regained the lead on Bautista's homer on a first-pitch two-seam fastball at 91 m.p.h. that came one out after Hill singled off the glove of second baseman Utley with one out.
"Stupid pitch, too aggressive," Kendrick said. "I wanted to be aggressive. I don't know why, he's the only guy in the lineup that can probably beat me like that. It was stupid, stupid pitch, if I'm going to miss I've got to miss, you know, off the plate. That was right down the middle."