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Tommy Pham of the Tampa Bay Rays steals second base as Freddy Galvis of the Toronto Blue Jays waits for the throw. The Rays beat the Jays 3-1 on July 26, 2019.Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Jacob Waguespack feels like he’s on the cusp of a breakout.

The rookie right-hander allowed just three runs over five innings Friday night in his third career start, but the Blue Jays’ offence stalled once again in a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I know I can compete at this level and I think my outings have just been a couple pitches I wish I could take back,” Waguespack said. “A lot of guys will say that, but I think I’m close.”

Waguespack (1-1) allowed six hits with three walks and two strikeouts and left the game after giving up a lead-off single to Nate Lowe in the sixth inning. The rookie right-hander threw 93 pitches, 54 for strikes.

“I’ll watch the film and get with Pete (Walker, the Blue Jays’ pitching coach) and see what I can improve on, but I know I’m close and can compete at this level,” he said.

With changes possibly coming to Toronto’s rotation on the cusp of next week’s MLB trade deadline, manager Charlie Montoyo said Waguespack earned at least another start.

“He pitched well enough for him to go back again for his next outing and hopefully build on what he did today,” Montoyo said. “The fact that we were still in the game when he left the game, that’s all I can ask from our starters.

“He did a good job in my opinion.”

Former Blue Jays prospect Travis d’Arnaud drove in two of Tampa’s three runs with a bases-loaded single in the fifth inning. The 30-year-old catcher, who was designated for assignment by the New York Mets earlier this season before landing with the Rays, has 18 runs batted in 16 games since July 1.

Austin Meadows drove in the other run on a triple in the third inning for Tampa Bay (59-47), which entered play 3 1/2 games back of Cleveland for the American League’s first wild card.

Freddy Galvis had Toronto’s lone RBI as the Blue Jays (39-66) dropped to 5-9 since the all-star break and 8-13 in the month of July.

Toronto, with its fifth consecutive games scoring three runs or fewer, dropped to 27 games below .500 for the first time this season.

“We were so hot for a while (offensively) but we’re also facing good pitching. We have to make an adjustment,” Montoyo said of his team’s cold spell. “The Rays got good pitching, Cleveland has good pitching, we have to make an adjustment, we have to battle harder now and try to do better but we are facing good pitching.”

Diego Castillo opened the game for Tampa, followed by 5 1/3 innings from Ryan Yarbrough. Colin Poche pitched the bottom of the ninth to earn his first save in four attempts this season.

Yarbrough (9-3) allowed just one run and four hits while striking out four. He walked Justin Smoak, the first batter he faced, then retired eight in a row before allowing his first hit in the fourth inning.

Toronto nearly scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth but had to settle for just one following video review on a contested play. With two runners on, Tampa left-fielder Pham bounced a Galvis double off himself and into the stands. While Smoak was able to score from second base, Randal Grichuk was sent back to third after the umpires determined the play a ground-rule double.

“Their argument was that it was not intentional that the ball went out of play and I said ‘man, you gotta check that with (MLB’s replay centre in) New York,“’ Montoyo said. “We didn’t have anymore replays but they were nice enough to go check with New York and that’s what the play was. So according to what (crew chief) Jerry Meals said, they made the right call.”

Meals maintained after the game that the ruling was correct.

“A ball not in flight was subsequently deflected out of play. At that point, the reward is two bases from the time of the pitch,” he said. “That’s what happened.”

NOTES: D’Arnaud was traded from the Blue Jays to the Mets in the deal that brought knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to Toronto in 2012. ... The teams continue their three-game series Saturday and Sunday at Rogers Centre. Toronto will be on the road against Kansas City during the MLB trade deadline next Wednesday..

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