Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah struggled mightily on Monday night, giving up six earned runs over just one-third of an inning as Toronto dropped an 11-4 decision to the Houston Astros.
It was the ugliest start of a challenging campaign for the 2022 AL Cy Young Award finalist.
Corey Julks delivered the big blow with his first career grand slam. Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker had RBI singles as the Astros had seven hits against the right-hander.
Manoah (1-7), who hasn’t won a decision in two months, had his earned-run average jump by nearly a run to 6.36.
Alejandro Kirk put Toronto (33-28) on the board in the second inning with a solo shot off Houston starter Brandon Bielak (3-2).
Daulton Varsho added a solo shot in the eighth. Bo Bichette, Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier had two hits apiece for the Blue Jays.
Alvarez and Tucker hit solo homers in the fourth inning as Houston (36-24) ended Toronto’s four-game winning streak. Jake Meyers piled on with a two-run blast in the fifth.
Bielak allowed three earned runs and 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings. He had two strikeouts and issued one walk.
Yainer Diaz and Meyers both had four hits for Houston. The Astros have won eight of their last 11 games and 19 of 25.
Manoah gave up a single to Mauricio Dubon on the first pitch of the game and things went downhill from there.
Two singles, a flyout, another single and a walk preceded the no-doubt Julks blast that landed just inside the left-field foul screen.
Scattered boos were heard from the announced Rogers Centre crowd of 23,982. Manager John Schneider was cheered as he came out to make the pitching change.
Manoah, the team’s Opening Day starter and ace at the start of the season, walked slowly back to the dugout. He sat on the top bench with a despondent look as reliever Jay Jackson took over on the mound.
Houston went on to outhit Toronto 19-12. The game took three hours one minute to play.
A moment of silence was held before the game for long-time Blue Jays coach John Sullivan, who died Thursday at age 82.
Sullivan spent parts of five seasons in the big leagues as a catcher and was a coach for the Blue Jays for over a decade. He retired after Toronto won a second straight World Series title in 1993.
Right-handers were scheduled to square off on Tuesday night as the four-game series continues.
Kevin Gausman (4-3, 2.76) was tabbed to start for the Blue Jays against Hunter Brown (5-2, 3.61).