Blue Jays' slide continues with more Manoah struggles in loss to Rays

Zach Eflin became major leagues' third seven-game winner, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat struggling Alek Manoah and Toronto 6-3 on Thursday to take three of four from the Blue Jays.

Toronto drops 3rd consecutive series against AL East opponent

A baseball pitcher throws a pitch.
Toronto's Alek Manoah throws a pitch during the Blue Jays' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Zach Eflin joined a special group with his latest win

Eflin became major leagues' third seven-game winner and Tampa Bay beat struggling Alek Manoah and Toronto 6-3 as the Rays took three of four from the visiting Blue Jays.

Eflin (7-1) allowed one run and six hits in seven innings as the major league-leading Rays (37-15) stole seven bases for the second time this season and improved to 24-5 at home. He joined teammate Shane McClanahan (8-0) and Minnesota's Joe Ryan (7-1) as the big leagues' winningest pitchers.

"Elite pitch execution," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "To get them to swing early in the count and not drive the ball, it's speaks to Zach's stuff."

Eflin didn't have a strikeout.

"I knew it was going to be a grinder day," Eflin said. "Just wanted to go out there and attack guys, and they were swinging early and they were hitting it right at guys there for a while."

Manoah (1-5), a 16-game winner last year, extended his winless streak to nine starts after giving up five runs, three hits and five walks over three innings with six strikeouts. He threw just 44 of 87 pitches for strikes and his ERA climbed from 5.15 to 5.53, The Rays stole five bases while he was on the mound.

'We're punched right in the face'

Toronto (26-25) is 8-15 in May. The Blue Jays are 6-15 in division play after going 43-33 last year. They trail the Rays by 10 1/2 and the teams do not meet again until six games during the final 10 days of the season.

The Toronto players called a team meeting post-game,

"We're punched right in the face the last 10 days or so," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. "You've got to understand that and you've got to make adjustments. In talking to the guys and hearing them, it's got to happen tomorrow."

"Yes it's tough a division, yes that's a good [Rays] team, and we're still a good team, too," Schneider added.

After the Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against Jake Diekman, Colin Poche entered and walked Bo Bichette on four pitches and gave up a sacrifice fly to pinch-hitter Ernie Clement. Poche got his first save this season when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounded into a game-ending forceout.

Early runs doom Jays

Wander Franco tripled and scored on Randy Arozarena's single during Tampa Bay's two-run first. Arozarena stole second and took third as Brandon Lowe struck out and reached firston a wild pitch. Harold Ramirez then hit a potential inning-ending double-play that second baseman Cavan Biggio bobbled and could only get a forceout at second as Arozarena to come home.

Josh Lowe made it 3-1 on a run-scoring double in the second. Manoah, who threw 62 pitches through two innings, avoided further damage by striking out Brandon Lowe to stranded the bases loaded.

Taylor Walls stole third as part of a double steal and scored on an errant throw by catcher Alejandro Kirk in a two-run third as the Rays went up 5-1.

Franco stole his 16th and 17th bases and scored to put the Rays ahead on Arozarena's seventh-inning single off Adam Cimber.

"It's a dangerous lineup, not only hitting-wise but just running the bases, keeping on the base paths," Eflin said. "It's what we do when we're during well. It's fun to watch."

Toronto's Brandon Belt had a first-inning RBI single.

Blue Jays RHP Kevin Gausman (2-3) will go Friday night against Minnesota RHP Louis Varland (2-0).

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