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TORONTO (AP) — All but untouchable in June, Cliff Lee’s streak of success came to a stunning halt in his first July start.
Jose Bautista hit his major league-leading 27th home run, one of three Toronto homers in a four-run eighth, and the Blue Jays snapped Lee’s scoreless innings streak at 34 with a 7-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.
“(Lee) had a clean seventh inning,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “All of a sudden in the eighth inning, things kind of fell apart.”
Edwin Encarnacion had a two-run shot and rookie Eric Thames also connected for the Blue Jays in the eighth to chase Lee.
“For Eric to come out and start the inning like that was huge,” Bautista said. “I was able to follow up and Edwin’s blast just capped it off. It was a good feeling in the dugout and we all had high energy.”
The Blue Jays also hit three homers in an inning on April 25 victory at Texas.
Lee, who had not allowed a home run in 49 innings, disputed Manuel’s assertion that his pitches were up in the pivotal eighth.
“I felt like they were decent pitches but obviously that doesn’t matter,” he said. “The result is what matters.”
Octavio Dotel (2-1) pitched 1 2-3 innings for the win and Rajai Davis went 3 for 4 with three stolen bases for Toronto, who had lost five of six.
Lee (9-6) gave up a season-high seven runs — six earned — and 10 hits in 7 1-3 innings.
He walked none and struck out nine.
The left-hander, who went 5-0 with an 0.21 ERA in five June starts, had not lost since May 31 at Washington and came in having pitched three consecutive shutouts.
“I don’t really care about the month I had,” Lee said. “I care about today and giving the team a chance to win.”
Lee extended his scoreless innings streak to 34 before giving up a run in the third. It’s the second longest in Phillies history. Grover Cleveland Alexander threw 41 consecutive shutout innings in 1911.
The Phillies jumped on Blue Jays left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes with a four-run second. Shane Victorino doubled and scored on Ben Francisco’s single, Domonic Brown singled and Carlos Ruiz drove in Francisco with a ground-rule double to right-center. One out later, Jimmy Rollins capped the rally with a two-run single to right.
Toronto scored the first run against Lee since June 11 when Davis tripled to lead off the third and came home on John McDonald’s grounder to shortstop.
Davis was involved again as the Blue Jays made it 4-2 in the fifth, reaching on a single and stealing second and third before scoring on a two-out hit by Aaron Hill.
For Davis, the stolen bases were his first since June 4.
The Blue Jays cut it to one run with an unearned run in the sixth. Bautista singled and went to third when Francisco made an error on Lind’s bloop single down the line in left.
Juan Rivera followed with a sacrifice fly to center, with Victorino stumbling and falling as he tried to throw to the plate. Victorino stayed down and appeared to twist his left ankle on the play. He was tended to by trainers and remained in the game.
“I just got my cleat stuck,” Victorino said. “I was coming in and I saw Bautista was going to tag, then I realized that (Adam) Lind, I could have doubled him up at second. I paused and gathered myself and tried to throw to second and when I did that my cleat got caught and everything else fell forward.”
A baserunning error by Victorino cost the Phillies an insurance run in the eighth. Reliever Marc Rzepczynski left after Victorino’s double to right and Philadelphia sent pinch hitter Raul Ibanez to the plate to face Dotel. After Victorino was caught in a rundown between second and third, Ibanez doubled to left but was stranded when Brown flied out to end the inning.
“He was jumping around like he was going to steal,” Manuel said of Victorino. “The guy put an inside move on him.”
Thames immediately made the Phillies pay by crushing a leadoff drive to center in the bottom half, his third. Bautista followed with a towering drive to left off his fellow All-Star, the fifth time this season the Blue Jays have hit back-to-back homers.
Adam Lind singled and Rivera flied out before Encarnacion chased Lee with a two-run blast into the second deck in left-center, his sixth.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)