TORONTO (AP) - Ricky Romero reverted to form - unfortunately, for him.
Romero lost his 12th straight decision, failing to get an out in the second inning before getting pulled in Toronto's 9-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
Romero (8-13) faced seven batters in the big second and all of them reached base.
``It just hasn't gone my way this year,' Romero said. ``There's no excuse. I've just been getting beat.'
``It's tough. It's tough to hear boos from your own fans, it's tough to see your teammates, they're going out there to battle every day and it's tough for me. It's been stressful,' he said.
What made the loss even tougher for Romero was that he did well in his previous start, holding the New York Yankees to five hits and two runs over seven innings.
``Coming off the heels of Ricky's last outing, (we) somewhat expected something similar to the way he pitched in New York,' Toronto manager John Farrell said. ``obviously that wasn't the case with location that was inconsistent, the number of pitches up in the strike zone, when he was ahead in the count or even in the count. And they made him pay.'
David Price pitched a solid 6 2-3 innings and Ben Francisco homered in his first start for Tampa Bay as the Rays salvaged a series split.
Price (17-5) became the AL's top winner.
Carlos Pena also homered as the Rays won for only the third time in nine games, pulling within 3 1/2 games of the AL East-leading New York Yankees. The Yankees begin a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Monday.
Price gave up two runs, six hits and four walks while striking out five in a rebound game after a rare bad outing in Texas, where he was tagged by the Rangers for six runs and 10 hits.
The All-Star lefty is 9-1 in his last 14 starts overall and improved to 12-2 lifetime against Toronto.
The Rays got to Romero with six runs in the big second, starting when Francisco, acquired in a trade with Houston on Friday, hit a solo shot over the left-field wall.
Romero walked Pena, Ryan Roberts doubled and Jose Molina hit an RBI single to shallow center field. Desmond Jennings singled to the exact same spot to make it 4-0.
B.J. Upton's routine fly ball became a single when right fielder Moses Sierra lost the ball in the sun and let it drop. With the bases loaded, Ben Zobrist hit a two-run single that ended Romero's day. An RBI grounder by Jeff Keppinger put the Rays ahead 7-0.
Price had some trouble of his own in the second inning when he loaded the bases with walks to Adam Lind, Yunel Escobar and Mike McCoy, but the Jays failed to capitalize.
Pena sent the first pitch he saw in the third over the center-field wall for his 17th homer.
Tampa Bay did more damage in the fourth when Evan Longoria hit a ground-rule double, Keppinger singled and Francisco hit an RBI double.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh and Lind had an RBI single that finished Price.
Encarnacion hit his 37th homer, a two-run drive, in the ninth.
NOTES: Rays manager Joe Maddon says RHP Jeff Niemann, who left in the fourth inning of Saturday's game, is still day-to-day with a ``general shoulder malaise.' ... Tampa Bay will start RHP James Shields (12-8, 3.91 ERA) on Monday against Yankees LHP CC Sabathia (13-4, 3.40). Toronto opens a three-game homestand against the Baltimore Orioles on Labor Day.
The Associated Press News Service
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