Pelfrey's string of strong performances came to an end, and the Twins couldn't overcome the early deficit, despite a late rally, in a 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays at Target Field.
As a result of his shaky third inning, Pelfrey, who posted a 3.60 ERA in six August starts, wasn't able to replicate that success in his first September outing. The right-hander allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits and two walks over six innings with seven strikeouts, and took his first loss since Aug. 10.
"I felt like it was kind of a wasted day," Pelfrey said. "I thought my stuff was good, but I didn't make enough quality pitches in the third inning and they kicked my butt. I guess you tip your cap, because I went out there and gave it everything I have and they beat me. But that third inning can't happen and ended up being the ballgame."
The Blue Jays scored in a hurry in the first inning, thanks to a fielding error by shortstop Pedro Florimon, as Jose Reyes reached and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly from Edwin Encarnacion.
Toronto blew the game open with that five-run third inning, with Reyes bringing home the inning's first run with an RBI single. Brett Lawrie followed with a two-run single up the middle with two outs before Moises Sierra connected on a two-run double. But Sierra was caught in a rundown between second and third to end the inning.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was pleased to see Pelfrey bounce back and get through six innings -- given that the bullpen has been overworked recently -- and noted that Lawrie's two-out single on a 2-2 fastball with two outs proved to be a pivotal point in the game.
"He couldn't make a pitch that inning," Gardenhire said. "It just snowballed. He had two outs with Lawrie up there, and he shot one into the gap. He just kept leaving the ball up. Other than that, he pitched well, but you can't take away that inning and the runs they scored."
Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, meanwhile, was solid against a team for which he once played, giving up three runs on seven hits and a walk over 6 1/3 innings.
Chris Colabello drove in the first three runs for the Twins with an RBI single in the second inning to score Trevor Plouffe and a two-run homer in the seventh. The two-run blast, coming on a fastball, was Colabello's seventh of the year and scored Oswaldo Arcia, who doubled to lead off the inning. It marked the final inning for Dickey, who left after retiring Josmil Pinto on a fly ball to center field for the inning's first out.
"I just overexposed [the fastball]," Dickey said of Colabello's homer. "I had gotten him out on a sinker in the at-bat before and just tried to repeat the pitch and left it up and he probably guessed right, so it was a home run. I felt like I pitched a lot better than six innings, three runs -- I felt that way at least."
The Twins scored again in the eighth against reliever Dustin McGowan on an RBI single from Plouffe with two outs. Plouffe reached third on a wild pitch and Arcia drew a walk, but both were stranded, as Colabello struck out on a 3-2 fastball from McGowan after falling behind 0-2 in the count.
"I got in a spot where I had to battle," Colabello said. "I'd obviously like to get myself in a better situation than being down 0-2. I didn't get much to hit that at-bat."
Closer Casey Janssen gave up a solo shot in the ninth to Pinto -- his first career homer -- but settled down to pick up his 28th save to preserve the win for the Blue Jays, who have won 18 of their last 23 games against Minnesota.
"We had some chances the last couple innings to get a run or two, but their pitchers made pitches when they had to," Gardenhire said. "We were creeping back into it with two nice swings from Colabello and Pinto at the end there."