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Blue Jays see fading playoff hopes take another hit with 6-5 loss to Rays in extra innings

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TORONTO — With their playoff hopes fading, the Blue Jays can't afford many more losses.

That's what made this one so hard to take.

Yunel Escobar riled up the crowd with an exaggerated display after a towering home run in the eighth inning and Sean Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th that lifted the Tampa Bay Rays over Toronto 6-5 on Sunday.

Ben Zobrist homered as the Rays took two of three from Toronto, dealing the Blue Jays a blow in their chase for an AL wild-card berth. Toronto came in four games out of a playoff spot.

"At this time of year, considering where we're at, it's especially tough," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

Toronto has 14 games remaining, including seven against the East-leading Orioles, four against the Yankees and four against Seattle, who are ahead of the Blue Jays in the wild card standings.

"We all know we're not in a good position," left-hander Mark Buehrle said. "We need help from other teams. But at the same time, we've got to worry about ourselves and try to win the games we're playing."

As Gibbons said of Toronto's slender chances, "there's really no room for error."

Edwin Encarnacion hit his 32nd homer, a solo shot off Rays starter Chris Archer in the seventh. Adam Lind added a three-run drive off Grant Balfour in the eighth, pulling the Blue Jays to within one at 5-4.

Toronto pinch-hitter John Mayberry Jr. connected for a tying, solo home run with two outs in the ninth off Jake McGee. It was the seventh career pinch-hit homer for Mayberry and his fourth this season.

"I definitely missed my spot," McGee said. "I was trying to go more up and in."

McGee (5-2) blew a save for the fourth time this year, but wound up with the win. Brandon Gomes got two outs in the 10th and Jeff Beliveau finished for his first major league save.

Brandon Morrow (1-3) walked Wil Myers to begin the 10th. After Logan Forsythe singled, reliever Brett Cecil walked Escobar to load the bases for Rodriguez.

PHOTO: Toronto Blue Jays John Mayberry, center, is congratulated by teammates Jose Reyes, left, and Danny Valencia after he hit a game-tying, two-out, solo home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the ninth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Toronto. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)
Toronto Blue Jays John Mayberry, center, is congratulated by teammates Jose Reyes, left, and Danny Valencia after he hit a game-tying, two-out, solo home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the ninth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Toronto. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

A frequent target of boos in Toronto after being suspended by the Blue Jays for writing an anti-gay slur on his eye-black in 2012, Escobar homered off the facing of the fourth deck against Todd Redmond.

"Oh my God, that was far," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Escobar drew more jeers by facing the crowd and making an elaborate safe sign as he crossed home plate.

"It's part of the show," Escobar said through a translator. "I was glad I hit the home run. I have a lot of fun now, coming here to play. I enjoy doing what I do and hopefully they do."

Kevin Kiermaier opened the scoring with an RBI grounder off Buehrle in the third and Zobrist followed with his 10th homer. Tampa Bay has homered in seven straight games, matching a season-high.

The Rays doubled their lead in the fourth. Evan Longoria led off with a single and Myers was credited with a double when right fielder Jose Bautista lost his fly ball in the sun.

"The sun was our buddy today," Maddon said.

Longoria scored on Forsythe's groundout and, two batters later, Ryan Hanigan hit an RBI single.

CONTENTIOUS CATCH

A young fan in the front row reached out in front of Bautista and caught Forsythe's foul fly ball in the eighth. First base umpire Hal Gibson didn't call interference, but Forsythe was called out on video review when Gibbons challenged.

RECORD STREAK REACHED

Buehrle was moved up a day to face the Rays, having gone 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his five previous starts against them this season. He allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. It was the 20th straight game a Blue Jays starter had worked six innings or more, breaking the team record set in 1998.

UP NEXT

Toronto opens a three-game series against the AL East-leading Orioles in Baltimore Monday, with RHP Marcus Stroman (10-5) facing Baltimore LHP Wei-Yin Chen (15-4). Stroman was pushed back a day for extra rest and, coupled with Thursday's off day, will be pitching for the first time since Sept. 8. It's his first career start against the Orioles.

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