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Back-to-back losses for Cecil means it's time to learn as Jays fall to Cardinals

They say there is more to learn when times are tough rather than when things are rolling along, so it's lesson time now for Brett Cecil.

TORONTO - They say there is more to learn when times are tough rather than when things are rolling along, so it's lesson time now for Brett Cecil.

The Toronto Blue Jays' sophomore lefty was hit hard for the second straight outing after a long run of success, roughed up for six runs over five innings in a 9-4 interleague loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.

The NL Central leaders were all over Cecil (7-4), who gave up eight hits, including solo shots to Yadier Molina in the second and the streaking Matt Holliday in the third. Things were essentially decided in the fifth, when RBI doubles by Holliday and Ryan Ludwick plus a two-run single by David Freese broke open a 2-2 game.

"Back to basics, two rough starts, time to start over," said Cecil. "I've got to get back to work on keeping the ball down. The whole game I was missing up."

Jose Bautista homered twice — his first longballs since June 4 — and drove in three runs for the Blue Jays (38-33), who tried to rally but lost their second straight before a crowd of 16,830.

A run-scoring groundout by Adam Lind in the sixth and Bautista's solo blast in the seventh, giving him 20 homers this season, made it a 6-4 game before reliever Jason Frasor coughed up a two-run blast to pinch hitter Colby Rasmus in the eighth that sealed the deal.

Felipe Lopez added a solo shot in the ninth for the Cardinals (39-31), who won for the third time in four outings behind six strong innings from rookie lefty Jaime Garcia (7-3), who allowed three runs on six hits.

"Good pitching will always stop good hitting, it doesn't matter who they are," said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston.

Garcia was able to work over the Jays lineup, unlike Cecil, who couldn't bounce back from a tough outing at San Diego in his last start, when he gave up five runs in six innings.

The big blow there was a grand slam in the second inning by Aaron Cunningham. This time it was Ludwick's double, which glanced off a diving Fred Lewis's glove in left field, that helped unravel things in the fifth inning.

Asked what he was thinking as Lewis chased the ball, Cecil replied: "What am I thinking? Please God, catch it."

The rough starts come after a run of five straight wins during which the 23-year-old allowed just six earned runs over 36 1-3 innings. His control has remained during the consecutive losses, he walked just three, one of them intentional, but his command hasn't been as sharp.

"I didn't see the downward plane on his fastball," said Gaston.

To correct the problem, Cecil plans to focus on throwing the ball below the belt during long-toss sessions between starts. It's something he tried during spring training at the recommendation of teammate Brian Tallet and pitching coach Bruce Walton, and it worked for him.

"It's a lot easier to hit the guy below the belt when you're throwing 120 feet and then coming into to 60 feet, pounding down," said Cecil. "I did that and a lot more pitches of mine were down."

The test comes next Sunday, when he's scheduled to pitch against the Phillies in a series moved to Philadelphia because of the G20 summit in Toronto.

The education continues.

"He's going to learn that he's going to have his ups and downs," said Gaston. "I suggest you put them behind you ... because if you don't you bring it out the next time you pitch."

Notes:Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said no claims had yet been made on 3B Edwin Encarnacion, who was designated for assignment Monday, and that he expects none to be made Tuesday. "If he does clear, we would expect to have him in the lineup for (triple-A) Las Vegas, playing every day at third base," said Anthopoulos. ... INF Jarrett Hoffpauir made his Blue Jays debut and will take over at third base from Encarnacion for the foreseeable future. He was told of his promotion in the middle of Las Vegas's game Sunday versus Colorado Spring. "It was like the fifth or sixth inning and (manager Dan Rohn) pulled me off the field," recalled Hoffpauir. "I said, 'I've other done something really bad or this is going to be a good thing. This was a good one." ... Security checkpoints popped up around the dome to go with the barricades that were already up in preparation for the upcoming G20 summit.

 
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