TORONTO - Brett Cecil couldn't keep his pitches down, and Carlos Pena made him pay.
Pena hit a pair of two-run homers of Toronto's rookie left-hander as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Blue Jays 7-3 on Tuesday. The Blue Jays wasted Aaron Hill's 30th home run of the season and Travis Snider's sixth against James Shields (8-10) who won for the second time in his past seven decisions.
Pena's homers gave him 37 on the season, tops in the American League. The slugger has more homers this season than singles (35). His second homer Tuesday was the 200th home run of his career, a milestone he seemed very pleased with.
"Maybe it's not 500 (homers) but to me it's 500," Pena said. "Maybe to the rest of the world it's not 500 but to me, it feels just like it."
Pena's two-run home run against Roy Halladay broke a tie on Monday night as the Rays continued their domination of the Blue Jays.
After winning the first two games of the three-game series the 2008 AL pennant winners have won 11 of 14 meetings with the Blue Jays this year.
Cecil (5-3) allowed six runs, five earned, in 3 1/3 innings while Shields (8-10) allowed eight hits and three runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said Cecil gets into trouble when his pitchers get up in the strike zone and become tantalizing targets for heavy hitters like Pena.
"Up in the strike zone, he stayed up most of the time," Gaston said. "When he's down he pitches pretty good. His fastball sinks and runs a little bit, his changeup is good down. Looks like he's getting his body out I front of his arm and he's dragging his arm through."
After Pena's home run in the second put the Rays ahead 2-1, Cecil said Gaston reminded him to keep the ball down the next time Pena came up in the third. He didn't, and Pena's homer made the score 6-1.
"Cito came out and said get the ball down and I threw the curveball," Cecil said. "I tried to stay down and away. I just didn't get the curveball down."
The Blue Jays scored a run in the first against as Marco Scutaro's led off with a single, stole his 10th base of the season, took third on a ground out and came home on Adam Lind's single.
The Rays were quickly in the lead in the second inning when Pena's first homer of the game followed Pat Burrell's leadoff single.
Pena's second homer of the game in the third scored Evan Longoria who reached base on third baseman Jose Bautista's error.
Jason Bartlett started the inning with a single and Ben Zobrist walked. Both scored on Burrell's single to left as Longoria went to third. Burrell was out trying for a double.
Hill's home run came with one out and the bases empty in the bottom of the third.
Hill said he couldn't explain this year's power surge.
"No, I want to keep it that way," he said. "As far as preparation, I've been more serious with it and more consistent. I hope they don't expect me to do it every year."
Added Gaston: "I hope that's something you see every year. That would be great."
Gaston gave Hill a rest late in the game replacing him at second base with John McDonald in the seventh inning.
Cecil allowed a hit and a walk in the fourth and had one out before Josh Roenicke took over and gave up a walk to load the bases. But he struck out the next two batters to keep the score 6-2.
But in the fifth Roenicke walked Dioner Navarro with two out and Gabe Kapler and Gabe Gross followed with singles for one run.
Scott Downs, who has been on the disabled list with a toe injury, pitched the eighth inning, his first outing for the Blue Jays since Aug. 1.
Notes: Toronto will start Marc Rzepczynski (2-3, 3.65 earned-run average) in Wednesday's third and final game of the series against Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir (8-7, 6.17 ERA)Cecil and Rzepczynski are scheduled to be shut down after making starts at the beginning of September as they approach the limits for innings pitched between their stints in the minors and Toronto Tampa Bay left-fielder Carl Crawford did not start in Tuesday's game and is listed as day-to-day with a stiff lower back that forced him to leave in the third inning of Monday's game. He is likely to miss Wednesday's game as well.
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