Laffey, Blue Jays hit road block in Chicago

Laffey, Blue Jays hit road block in Chicago

Laffey, Blue Jays hit road block in Chicago
CHICAGO -- It appeared after four innings and a 1-0 lead, Aaron Laffey might earn his first win of the season on Friday night.

One inning, two errors and three runs later, Laffey's first decision of the season would go in the losing column in a 4-2 defeat, dropping the Blue Jays to 4-26 when scoring three runs or fewer.

Laffey said he likes to be aggressive with his cutter, sinker and four-seamer, aiming to keep the ball low in the zone and let his defense make plays. That worked for four innings, during which he allowed just two hits, while forcing three groundouts in the fourth.

"The first four innings were pretty good," Laffey said. "I went out there and pounded down in the zone, was able to keep the hitters off balance like I had been my previous starts."

The cutter started rising in the fifth inning and the defense didn't provide much help.

Laffey allowed three runs on four hits in the fifth, blaming the three run-scoring hits on location rather than pitch selection.

"Regardless of what the pitch is, that's the difference between being down and being up," Laffey said. "If you're down [in the zone], the hits don't happen."

Despite the late troubles, Laffey allowed only three earned runs to record his third straight quality start, pitching exactly six innings in each start. He owns a 2.31 ERA in his last seven starts dating back to 2010.

After beginning the season in Triple-A Las Vegas, Laffey thinks he's pitched well enough to remain a Major League starter.

"I think I've thrown the ball well enough to earn a spot in this rotation and stay in the rotation, going out there and getting through the lineup three times and going six innings and doing my work in between," Laffey said.

The starter's troubles Friday began with a leadoff double by Dayan Viciedo in the fifth inning for the home team's first extra-base hit. Alexei Ramirez followed with a game-tying RBI single and advanced all the way to third after a throw from left fielder Rajai Davis sailed over the head of J.P. Arencibia with nobody backing up the catcher.

Manager John Farrell said Davis tried to force the issue, as Viciedo would have likely scored on a perfect throw.

"The lead that Viciedo had, the secondary lead, and then obviously by the time he received the ball, right there you're probably looking for him to throw the ball to second base," Farrell said. "He forced it and overthrew."

The Blue Jays committed a second error on the next play after Gordon Beckham's blooper to shallow left field scored the go-ahead run. Third baseman Brett Lawrie, moving away from the infield, tried to flip the ball to Davis unsuccessfully, allowing Beckham to trot into second.

After an RBI single by Kevin Youkilis and a strikeout by Adam Dunn, Lawrie redeemed himself by robbing Paul Konerko of extra bases with a leaping catch on a liner.

Farrell (0-1) attributed the mental mistakes in the field and the lack of timely hitting -- the Blue Jays finished 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position -- to possible fatigue. He said he hasn't decided if he'll make a roster move before the All-Star break to spark energy into his tired club, which has lost seven of its last 11 games.

"Not to make excuses, but this starting nine has been running out there every day," Farrell said. "That's where some of the lack of depth on the bench, because we're carrying an extra pitcher, starts to come into play a little bit. But again, we're not making excuses."

The Blue Jays smacked three hits through the first two innings off Jake Peavy (7-5), but managed just two hits in the next 5 1/3 innings against the White Sox starter, who earned his first win since May 26.

"For a little bit, I thought I might end the season on six [wins]," Peavy said. "Great win, great job by everybody. It's just a good team win versus a guy who has been pitching very well."

Laffey allowed his final run on a solo shot to A.J. Pierzynski in the sixth inning before finishing out the frame.

The last time Laffey allowed at least four runs in a game was June 25, 2010, when he allowed five runs against the Reds while pitching for the Indians.

"The one pitch to Pierzynski -- that's the second time he's gotten me here on a first-pitch hanging breaking ball," Laffey said. "I just didn't execute that pitch. Overall on the night, I think I threw the ball pretty well."

The Blue Jays got their 14th home run in the last nine games with a solo shot by Adam Lind to put Toronto on the board in the second inning. Lind's power stroke is in full swing, as he launched his fourth home run in 11 games since returning from Triple-A Las Vegas.

The offense struggled for the next six innings until placing men on the corners to begin the top of the ninth. Yunel Escobar brought one run in on a sacrifice fly, but Davis followed by grounding into a game-ending double play.

Rowan Kavner is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.