TORONTO -- The Rays jumped out to an early lead with a pair of third-inning home runs and Jacob Faria handled the rest on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre as Tampa Bay opened its series against the Blue Jays with an 8-1 win.
Faria was dominant for the Rays in just his second career MLB start, holding Toronto to one run on six hits over 6 1/3 innings while striking out eight. The only damage against the 23-year-old came on an RBI single in the seventh inning from Ezequiel Carrera, the final batter he faced.
"I think it was a matter of locating it early," Faria said. "Later in the game I started falling behind some hitters and that's when they started having more solid contact. Just getting ahead early in counts and letting everything play after that was really what was working."
It was a top-to-bottom offensive effort for the Rays as all nine starters recorded a hit, giving them 16 as a team. Five players had two or more hits, including Evan Longoria, who drove in two runs with a double in the fourth. Corey Dickerson launched his 15th home run of the season in the ninth, capping a 4-for-5 game.
The Rays used a four-run third inning to take control of the game early. Taylor Featherston homered to lead off the frame, and Logan Morrison hit his 18th home run of the season, a three-run shot to center field, to give Tampa Bay all the cushion it would need.
"Offensively, in scoring position, we don't capitalize in the first two innings and then it seemed like it all came together for us with Taylor leading it off with the home run and then LoMo with the big three-run shot," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Toronto starter Marco Estrada lasted just 3 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of 2017, and allowed a career-high 12 hits. Home runs continue to be an issue for Estrada: He's allowed at least one in seven of his last eight starts, totalling 10 over his last 44 1/3 innings pitched.
"It [stinks]," Estrada said. "I know I've been in a bit of a funk the last few outings, but I'm not worried about it. I feel pretty good out there. I know things are going to change for me. These guys have had my number all year."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Unexpected power threat: Featherston isn't typically a power threat, but his third career MLB home run put the Rays out front 1-0 in the top of the third. The opposite-field shot off Estrada traveled 403 feet, leaving the bat at 103.4 mph according to Statcast™. After a string of weak contact in the early innings, Featherston's home run was the hardest contact allowed by Estrada at that point.
LoMo breaks it open: Shortly after Featherston's home run, Morrison provided some breathing room with a three-run shot to dead center. The home run left Morrison's bat at 106.4 mph and traveled 429 feet, scoring Dickerson and Longoria, who reached on singles.
"Honestly, I'm already over this outing. I'm over it. I know I'm in a good place, and I'm going to be in a good place. Things are going to change for me, and I've just got to keep working hard. Things are going to change." -- Estrada
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The Blue Jays have been one game below .500 at six different points in 2017, but have gone 0-6 in those opportunities.
"Hopefully sooner rather than later," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "Of course that's frustrating, though you keep climbing back and it was a battle to get to that point, to even get close. We'll get there. We'll get on a roll, we've always felt that."
WHAT'S NEXT Rays: Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (4-3, 3.59 ERA) gets the ball for Tampa Bay in the conclusion of the two-game series at 7:07 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Odorizzi allowed three runs on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings and sturck out eight his last time out, a win over the White Sox.
Blue Jays: Left-hander Francisco Liriano (3-2, 5.87 ERA) will start the finale for Toronto at Rogers Centre. He's looked sharper since returning from the disabled list two outings ago, and worked up to 92 pitches in his last start in Oakland, during which he allowed four runs (three earned) over five innings while striking out five. He should now be free to pitch up to his regular workload.