Bullpen struggles as Rays lose 5-3 to Blue Jays
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — For a while, 17-game loser Chris Archer was in position to beat 17-game winner J.A. Happ. Then Tampa Bay lost a bullpen battle to Toronto.
Kevin Jepsen yielded a tiebreaking two-run homer to Russell Martin in the eighth inning, and the Rays missed out on a chance for a three-game sweep with a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday.
The Blue Jays tied it at 3 in the seventh on Devon Travis’ two-run single off Brad Boxberger, costing Archer a shot at his ninth win.
“Their bullpen came in and did a really good job, kept it right there, and our bullpen came in and struggled,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “They got hits, they got walks and then the big home run from Russell Martin.”
Five Toronto relievers allowed two hits in 6 1/3 scoreless innings.
Archer allowed two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He also struck out nine, running his AL-best total to 211.
“I felt good,” Archer said. “It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t win today.”
The Rays, at 9-7, are the only AL East team with a winning record against Toronto this season.
“They’re always tough,” Travis said. “That’s a club full of fighters. When Archer’s on the mound, that makes it even tougher.”
Martin hit his 17th homer on a 3-0 pitch from Jepsen (2-6). He has gone deep nine times and driven in 24 runs over his last 18 games.
Happ was up to 85 pitches when he was pulled by manager John Gibbons after Corey Dickerson’s RBI single put the Rays up 3-1 with two outs in the third.
Joaquin Benoit (3-1) gave up a single and struck out three in a scoreless seventh. His second strikeout, coming against Evan Longoria, was the 1,000th of his career.
Roberto Osuna got three outs for his 30th save.
Happ has gone fewer than five innings in just two of 27 starts this season, with both coming against Tampa Bay. He allowed eight runs over two innings in a 13-2 loss to the Rays on May 18.
Despite the ability to expand rosters in September, Tampa Bay still had just three position players on the bench on Sunday: C Luke Maile, 1B Logan Morrison and utilityman Nick Franklin. “I think there’s plans to expand,” Cash said.
Rays second baseman Logan Forsythe tied a franchise record by reaching in 11 plate appearances in the three-game series. He went 7 for 12 with four walks.
Rays RHP Matt Andriese (6-6) will face RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (5-11) and the contending Orioles on Monday in the opener of a three-game home series. Baltimore has won nine of 12 in the season series, but is 3-3 at Tropicana Field.