Blue Jays stung by homers, blow two leads in loss

Bats erupt for five-run fourth, but missed chances open door for rallies

Blue Jays stung by homers, blow two leads in loss

ANAHEIM -- The Blue Jays were inching closer to potentially salvaging their lengthy road trip through the West Coast, but instead of taking one step forward, they took two steps back.

Toronto saw a pair of leads -- and in the end, its series -- slip away vs. the Angels. Even a breakout afternoon at the plate wasn't enough to secure a desperately needed win on getaway day at Angel Stadium as Aaron Loup surrendered a two-run homer to Albert Pujols in the seventh inning for an 8-7 loss on Wednesday afternoon.

"We [gave] away a good opportunity tonight," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of his club, which stranded 12 on base and went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position. "We had the lead, coughed it up, took a slim lead. It was disappointing, it really was."

Early on, the Blue Jays looked like they were primed to win their third series in 10 opportunities. They jumped in front, 6-3, and later, 7-6, but each time an Angels home run changed everything.

With the loss, Toronto's record on the West Coast dropped to 1-6. In the first five defeats, the Blue Jays' pitching staff did its job by keeping Toronto in almost every game despite a struggling offense. The club scored six runs over those five games en route to a season-high losing streak.

The tides turned Tuesday night thanks to a four-hit night by Jose Reyes, which included his seventh home run of the season. The offense was there again in the series finale as Dioner Navarro had a three-hit afternoon and recently acquired Nolan Reimold added a pair of hits and three RBIs.

It looked as though the Blue Jays might go into cruise control after chasing left-hander C.J. Wilson from the game in a five-run fourth inning. Rookie right-hander Marcus Stroman had a three-run lead going into the bottom of that inning, but his outing quickly fell apart.

Stroman walked a batter and then gave up a single to C.J. Cron. Los Angeles got within two on a wild pitch, and then Kole Calhoun tied the game with a two-run homer to right field. Calhoun's 10th homer of the season chased Stroman as he allowed more than two runs for the second time in eight career starts.

"I just didn't have it," Stroman said. "I was locked in, I just wasn't executing certain pitches, and the pitches that I was executing felt like they were battling off for base hits.

"It's more frustrating that our team put up seven runs, which is more than enough to win the game. We should have won. I couldn't do my job to put us in a position to win."

Toronto regained the lead in the sixth on an RBI single by Navarro. That also proved to be short-lived as Loup got himself into some trouble in the seventh. He issued the dreaded leadoff walk and later surrendered the two-run homer to Pujols on a 94-mph fastball.

It marked the first time since June 19 that Loup allowed an earned run and the first time since June 7 he surrendered more than one during an outing. Gibbons decided to stick with Loup for Pujols' at-bat because he had yet to give up a home run this season and has solid numbers this year against righties.

"At the end of my career, that's when I'm going to look back and see what I've done," said Pujols, who moved into a tie with Ernie Banks and Eddie Matthews on Major League Baseball's all-time home run list with No. 512. "It's hard for me to get caught up, because I'm not a guy that gets caught up with numbers. I respect this game too much, and I believe if you try to get caught up too much with that, you forget what you're supposed to do and that's to help this organization to win a championship."

The loss is yet another blow to a team that has been desperately searching for positives of late. Toronto was seven outs away from winning its third series out of its past 10 but instead will head to Tampa Bay just three games above .500 with three games to go before the All-Star break.

It was the second consecutive game Toronto reached double digits in hits, while Erik Kratz and Darin Mastroianni were the only players in the starting lineup to not reach base safely. The eight runs were the most Toronto has allowed since June 19-20 in Cincinnati.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.