ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Carlos Villanueva struggled again and his increased workload could be to blame.
Robinson Chirinos hit his first major league homer and drove in four runs, James Shields pitched into the eighth inning and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-1 on Wednesday night.
Chirinos had a three-run shot off Villanueva (6-3) during a four-run third that put the Rays up 8-1. An inning earlier, he drove in a run with a bunt single.
Villanueva gave up eight runs and nine hits over 2 2-3 innings.
``When he's been in some jams of late, he's been able to make a pitch with the secondary stuff down in the zone whether it's been his change up or breaking ball and that wasn't the case,' Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. ``Didn't have the usual late life he'd shown.'
Farrell said the team plans to talk about Villanueva's innings total this season. The right-hander has given up 20 earned runs in 19 1-3 innings over his last four starts.
``He's been primarily a reliever the last couple years,' Farrell said. ``He's at the point now where he's getting up about 100 innings and we're seeing the physical tolls of that. Health-wise he's fine. It's just a matter of maintaining strength over a longer period of time.'
``I think it's showing us that we've got take a closer look and discuss what our next steps are,' he added. ``It's not to say that he's coming out of the rotation by any means, but we're well aware of late the lack of late action through the zone and that's a sign of fatigue.'
Shields (10-9) allowed one run and three hits in 7 1-3 innings. The right-hander struck out six and walked three.
Ben Zobrist and Casey Kotchman also homered for the Rays, who are 7-11 over their last 18 games.
J.P. Arencibia homered for Toronto.
Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista had his third-inning pop fly caught by shortstop Sean Rodriguez for an out after the ball hit highest of four catwalks at Tropicana Field. It was the third ball since the stadium opened in 1998 that has struck the ``A' ring, which located around 185 feet above the infield.
Zobrist hit a solo homer, Rodriguez bunted home a run, Chirinos drove in a run with his bunt hit and Johnny Damon added a sacrifice fly during a four-run second.
Kotchman had a solo homer before Chirinos' drive in the third broke open the game.
``It wasn't pretty,' Villanueva said. ``I had nothing on the ball. Every ball that I seemed to leave close to the zone they hit it on the barrel of the bat.'
Matt Joyce made it 9-1 with an RBI single in the seventh.
Arencibia, who struck out in all four at_bats in the Blue Jays' 3-1 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, cut the deficit to 4-1 with his 18th homer of the season leading off the third. He has six homers in his last 10 games.
Shields struck out Travis Snider with two on and two out in the second. He retired 11 in a row after allowing Arencibia's homer.
NOTES: The Blue Jays would like to get RHP Brandon Morrow around 175 innings this season. ``Building block approach,' Farrell said. Morrow (8-5) has worked 112 innings so far. ... Rays RHP Wade Davis (8-7), Thursday's scheduled starter, is 2-2 with a 2.80 ERA in five career starts against the Blue Jays. ``They're aggressive swinging the bat,' Davis said. ... Toronto LHP Brett Cecil (4-4) will look to win for the fourth time in his last six starts in Thursday's series finale. He is 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA over his last five starts, including two complete games. ... Toronto LHP Brian Tallet (chest) is nearing his first bullpen session.
The Associated Press News Service
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