ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Marcus Stroman made two strong starts at Tampa Bay during the first month of the season. His third one Friday night wasn’t nearly as good.
Stroman allowed four runs over six innings as the AL East-leading Toronto Blue Jays lost 8-3 to the Rays.
“My stuff feels as sharp as it’s been all year,” Stroman said. “It’s just frustrating not getting the results I want to get.”
Stroman (9-6) went eight innings — giving up a combined four runs — in each of two road victories over the Rays, coming on April. 3 and on May 1.
“At the end of the day I’ve got to keep my team in it,” Stroman said. “I just didn’t do my job.”
Alex Cobb went five solid innings during his first start in two years and Logan Morrison hit a go-ahead two-run homer for Tampa Bay.
Cobb, coming back from Tommy John surgery last year, allowed two runs and four hits in his first appearance since Sept 28, 2014, at Cleveland. He struck out seven — six looking — walked one and retired his final 10 batters.
“He might have looked a little rusty early but it’s been a while since he’s been in the big leagues, and he’s always been one of the better competitors in the game,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He knows how to survive.”
Morrison put the Rays up 4-2 in sixth on his 12th homer off Stroman. Luke Maile hit a solo homer and Kevin Kiermaier had an RBI triple off Francisco Liriano before Brad Miller added a two-run shot against Ryan Tepera in a four-run seventh that made it 8-2.
All three batters Liriano faced in his first relief appearances with Toronto after four starts scored.
“I don’t think you ever judge anybody on one outing,” Gibbons said. “I don’t think that’s fair to anybody. He’s a guy we’re going to need so we’ve got to keep him working.”
Edwin Encarnacion had an RBI double and Russell Martin picked up his 22nd RBI in his last 16 games on an infield single as the Blue Jays went up 2-0 in the first.
Eddie Gamboa, a 31-year old knuckleballer, made his major league debut and loaded the bases on a single and two walks in the eighth before departing with one out. The Blue Jays were able to score just once on Troy Tulowitzki’s grounder off Brad Boxberger.
Danny Farquhar (1-0) worked a scoreless sixth for the win.
Blue Jays: 2B Devon Travis, optioned to Bluefield on Thursday to make room for the signing of C Josh Thole, was recalled from the Appalachian League club. … Tepera, RHP Danny Barnes, and OFs Darrell Ceciliani and Dalton Pompey were recalled from Triple-A Buffalo. … LHP Matt Dermody had his contract purchased from Buffalo and INF Matt Dominguez was designated for assignment. … OF Quintin Berry signed a minor league contract and might be called up next week.”
Gibbons said “there’s a good chance you’ll probably see” Liriano start again a couple times this month.
There was a video tribute on the scoreboard for Toronto Of Melvin Upton Jr., who played at Tropicana Field for the first time since his final game with Tampa Bay on Oct. 3, 2012. “It was pretty cool,” Upton said. “I appreciated that a lot.”
Blue Jays RHP Marco Estrada (8-6) starts Saturday night against Rays rookie LHP Blake Snell (4-7), who left Sunday’s game at Houston with a bruised lower left leg.