Blue Jays 2, Rays 0

Shutout losses are becoming a troubling trend for the Tampa Bay

Rays.

Carlos Villanueva pitched six sharp innings and the Toronto Blue

Jays beat slumping Tampa Bay 2-0 on Thursday night, snapping a

five-game losing streak against the Rays.

Tampa Bay lost for the fifth time in six games and dropped 1 1/2

games behind Baltimore for the second AL wild-card berth. The Rays

have been blanked twice in the past three games, and six of their

nine shutout losses this season have come in the past 25 games.

”We’ve played that story way too often and we’ve got to get by

it somehow,” manager Joe Maddon said.

Tampa Bay, beaten 1-0 at Texas on Tuesday, has lost a major

league-worst 10 times when allowing two runs or less.

”There’s not a whole lot to say about it,” outfielder Sam Fuld

said. ”You just try to bounce back.”

Kelly Johnson hit a two-run double in the first inning and

Toronto won consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 12-13,

improving to 3-9 against the Rays this season.

Pitching despite an illness, Villanueva (7-4) allowed five hits

– all singles – to win for the first time since July 27 against

Detroit. The right-hander had gone 0-4 in five starts since,

despite never allowing more than four earned runs. He walked one

and struck out seven, including six straight during one stretch to

tie a club record.

”Carlos was fighting a low-grade fever all afternoon and

through the six innings he pitched tonight,” Blue Jays manager

John Farrell said. ”But he was outstanding again.”

It was the first win in five career appearances against Tampa

Bay for Villanueva, who entered 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA against the

Rays. He said the illness forced him to work slowly and conserve as

much energy as possible.

”It’s just satisfying to beat Tampa,” Villanueva said.

”They’ve given me a lot of trouble since I came to the East last

year.”

Fuld praised Villanueva’s command and his assortment of

off-speed pitches.

”His changeup is really good and the slider I saw from him came

out of his hand like a fastball,” Fuld said. ”That’s the

definition of good off-speed stuff, the stuff that looks like a

fastball out of the hand, and that was certainly the case

tonight.”

Darren Oliver and Brad Lincoln each worked one inning and Casey

Janssen finished for his 18th save in 21 chances.

The hard-luck loser was Rays rookie left-hander Matt Moore, who

allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. Moore walked three,

two in the decisive first inning, and struck out seven. The loss

was his first since July 22 against Seattle.

Moore (10-8) got two quick outs in the first but couldn’t wrap

things up. Edwin Encarnacion walked, Adam Lind singled and Yunel

Escobar walked to load the bases for Johnson, who doubled into the

right-field corner.

”Moore has got a good fastball and I was just looking for the

first one I could handle,” Johnson said.

One strike from retiring Encarnacion, Moore said he regretted

not going after the Toronto slugger.

”I quit what I was doing the first two hitters,” Moore said.

”I don’t know what it was, it just felt like I was getting a

little giddy, kind of jumping at the glove a little bit.”

Maddon acknowledged that Moore ”wasn’t really sharp” but

refused to pin the blame on him.

”I can’t really get on a young pitcher who gives up two runs in

six innings,” Maddon said. ”When you don’t score any runs you

can’t cover any mistakes.”

Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce opened the second with back-to-back

singles and moved up on Jeff Keppinger’s sacrifice, but the Rays

couldn’t score. Luke Scott fouled out and Jose Lobaton was caught

looking to end the inning.

Lobaton’s strikeout was the first of six straight by Villanueva,

the fourth Toronto pitcher to achieve the feat and second this

month: J.A. Happ fanned six straight against Texas on Aug. 17.

The Rays put runners at first and second with one out in the

fifth, but No. 9 hitter Sam Fuld flied out and left fielder Rajai

Davis caught Desmond Jennings’ sinking liner to keep Tampa Bay

scoreless.

”We should have been able to score more than two runs

tonight,” Maddon said. ”We just got shut down.”

Rays slugger Carlos Pena, 0 for 17 with 10 strikeouts since his

last base hit, was held out of the starting lineup. Scott started

at first base and Joyce was the designated hitter.

NOTES: Blue Jays OF Jose Bautista (left wrist) will undergo

season-ending surgery Sept. 4. He’s expected to be ready in time

for spring training 2013. … Scott went 0 for 3, ending his

hitting streak at a season-high 10 games. … Maddon said Longoria

will start at DH on Friday. … Rays LHP David Price was delayed

arriving in Toronto because he left his passport at home in Tampa,

Fla. Price arranged for a friend to fly the passport from Florida

to Texas, then he and the friend flew to Canada. … Blue Jays RHP

Jason Frasor (forearm) struck out two in a scoreless inning for

Class-A Dunedin. He’s expected to rejoin the team Saturday when

rosters expand. … Ted Lilly and Marc Rzepczynski are the other

Blue Jays pitchers to record six straight strikeouts. … Former

Blue Jays OF Frank Catalanotto threw out the first pitch.