- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

TORONTO (AP) - Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell was fired up for his first career start against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Toronto’s big bats gave the Rays rookie a harsh lesson about life in the major leagues.

J.A. Happ and three relievers combined on a four-hitter as Happ became the first 16-game winner in the majors, and the Blue Jays beat Snell and the Rays 7-0 on Wednesday night.

Snell (3-5) worked a career-low 1 2-3 innings and matched a career-worst by allowing five runs, two earned, and five hits. He threw 68 pitches, 37 strikes.

“That’s the first time we’ve really seen him struggle,” manager Kevin Cash said. “It wasn’t for lack of stuff, he had the stuff going. It was lack of command and location with his pitches.”

Troy Tulowitzki homered and had a season-high five RBIs and Justin Smoak also connected for the Blue Jays, whose 162 homers this season are second only to Baltimore. The Orioles entered play Wednesday with 170.

Snell said he was “really pumped up” to face the defending AL East champions, whose 551 runs are second in the AL to Boston.

“I should have attacked more but I’ll learn,” Snell said. “It’s exciting for me because I know I’m going to face them again. That’s one bad start, you could say, but what I learn from it is so much greater than the real outcome.”

Tulowitzki hit a two-out, three-run homer off Snell in the first inning, his 19th.

“I was surprised the way he got to it,” Snell said.

The drive snapped a streak of 17 straight solo home runs by Toronto, which hadn’t gone deep with a man on base since Josh Donaldson’s two-run homer in the first inning of a July 20 win at Arizona.

All three runs were unearned after Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. was charged with an error when he dropped Donaldson’s foul fly ball.

“I had to run a long way but that ball has got to be caught,” a disappointed Souza said.

Snell ran into trouble again in the second and could not finish the inning. After Devon Travis hit an RBI single, Donaldson reached on a fielder’s choice and went to second on a balk. Snell walked Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin to load the bases for Tulowitzki, who walked on a full-count pitch to bring home another run. Dylan Floro came on and retired Melvin Upton Jr. to end the rally.

Happ (16-3) allowed four hits, all singles, to win his 10th consecutive decision.

Joe Biagini, Jason Grilli and Ryan Tepera worked one inning each to complete Toronto’s seventh shutout.

Cash said Happ lived up to a scouting report that suggested the Rays would see plenty of fastballs, especially four-seamers.

“We knew we were going to get it, we just weren’t able to handle it,” Cash said.

Toronto has won Happ’s past 11 outings and is 18-5 when he starts.

“That’s a team number right there, those wins,” Happ said after passing Boston’s Rick Porcello and Washington’s Stephen Strasburg for the major league lead. “But it feels good to go out there and give us a chance to win consistently. That’s always been my goal.”

STARTING STRONG

Rays starting pitchers have allowed three earned runs or fewer in 21 consecutive games, the longest such run in team history.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: SS Matt Duffy (left Achilles) went 0 for 4 in a rehab game at Triple-A Durham. Duffy is expected to make his Rays debut Friday. “He’ll come right an and play shortstop for us,” Cash said. … INF Richie Shaffer was optioned to Durham following Wednesday’s game to open a spot for Duffy.

Blue Jays: OF Junior Lake was selected from Triple-A Buffalo to replace Bautista.

UP NEXT

Rays: Tampa Bay is off Thursday before opening a three-game series against the Yankees on Friday. RHP Chris Archer (6-15, 4.26) starts against LHP CC Sabathia (6-9, 4.18). Archer is 5-3 with a 2.13 ERA in 11 career starts against New York.

Blue Jays: After a day off Thursday, Toronto begins a three-game series against Houston on Friday. LHP Francisco Liriano (6-11, 5.34) makes his second start for Toronto. He will face RHP Joe Musgrove (0-0, 0.79).

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