TORONTO -- After staggering through a three-city, nine-game road trip, the Blue Jays welcomed the Angels to Rogers Centre on Thursday to begin a stretch of eight games at home.
Unfortunately for Toronto, the comforts of home didn't help much. After allowing 30 runs over their past four games entering the contest, the Blue Jays were hit hard again, could not capitalize during a ninth-inning rally and dropped their third consecutive game.
Brett Cecil surrendered eight runs, including three homers, in his first loss of the season, and the offense was unable to bail him out in a back-and-forth affair that saw the Blue Jays lose, 9-7, to the Angels.
"When he left a pitch up over the plate, they didn't miss it," manager John Farrell said. "Early on he established his secondary stuff well to keep some guys off balance. But as the game wore on and we got into the middle innings, when he made a mistake up, it cost him."
The Blue Jays almost rallied to get Cecil off the hook in the ninth inning but came up short, as Angels closer Ernesto Frieri extended his scoreless streak to 23 games.
Jeff Mathis started the bottom of the ninth with a single up the middle, his fourth hit of the game, and Brett Lawrie followed with an opposite-field single to right to put runners on first and second with none out.
After Frieri struck out Colby Rasmus, he walked Jose Bautista to load the bases for Edwin Encarnacion, who hit into a game-ending double play.
Toronto had a potent game at the plate, but Cecil was shelled after two strong starts since being recalled from the Minors.
The left-hander, who lost his job in the rotation at the end of Spring Training, allowed just three runs over his first two starts of the season -- a success he was unable to duplicate on Thursday night
Cecil put the Blue Jays in a hole in the second inning after issuing his first homer of the game -- a shot by Alberto Callaspo that put the Angels up, 1-0.
After Toronto tied the score, it took the lead on a solo homer by Mathis, but the second homer Cecil surrendered was a two-run shot to Mark Trumbo, his 19th of the year, that put the Angels ahead, 3-2.
The Blue Jays, however, chipped away and gave Cecil another lead. After Mathis and Rasmus reached base in the fifth, Bautista crushed a 3-2 offering from Angels starter Dan Haren into the seats in left to put Toronto ahead, 6-5. It was Bautista's Major League-leading 26th homer, and it extended his club record for home runs in a single month to 14.
"This guy, he's as tough an out as there is in the batter's box because he can hit the ball to all fields," Angels manager Mike Scoiscia said about Bautista. "Every time we've seen him, he's really a tough out. He's got power all around the field, handles a variety of pitches, takes his walks. This guy's tough. He doesn't give away any at-bats."
But Cecil was unable to hold the lead for long, as the Angels responded with three runs in the top of the sixth, highlighted by a two-run homer from rookie Mike Trout that chased Cecil from the game.
"Just getting the ball up, really," Cecil said when asked what went wrong. "I thought I threw some good pitches that they got hits on, and obviously I threw some bad pitches that they got hits on. ... I feel bad personally, because the guys [went] out there and [got] some runs for me."
Cecil lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowing eight runs on 10 hits, while striking out a season-high six batters, but the rough outing is not expected to have any bearing on his place in the rotation. Toronto has been decimated by injuries to its starting staff, and Cecil is considered among the most viable options the team has.
The ball was flying out of the Rogers Centre all night, and it wasn't just Cecil who struggled.
Toronto roughed up Haren, but the righty improved to 6-7 on the season despite allowing six runs on seven hits over six innings.
Mathis had a big day at the plate, going 4-for-4 with three runs scored, but he was unable to enjoy the offensive outburst due to the outcome.
"Obviously, it's nice to have a day at the plate like that, but when you come out with a loss, it's still not satisfying," said Mathis, who collected his first four-hit game since July 23, 2008, against the Indians. "It was a nice day offensively, but you need to get it done defensively behind the plate, too."
Lawrie also had a multihit game and has now reached base safely in 17 consecutive contests.
The loss marked just the second time this season that Toronto has scored at least seven runs and lost; the first came in an extra-inning defeat to Texas in May.
"It was a strong offensive night tonight," Farrell said. "But at some point we have to find a way to get deeper into games. We are putting an awful lot of pressure on our bullpen right now."
Toronto turned to four relievers, and closer Casey Janssen was the only one to allow a run, on a ninth-inning triple by Trumbo.
The loss dropped the Blue Jays to .500 on the year, while the Angels moved 10 games over .500 and improved to 14-1 over their past 15 road games.
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.