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Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Ben Revere steals second base before the tag of Texas Rangers’ Elvis Andrus.Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Quality defence, general manager Alex Anthopoulos said earlier in the week, was the primary reason behind the Toronto Blue Jays' rapid rise to the top of their division.

Thursday afternoon against the Texas Rangers, defence proved to be the Blue Jays' primary downfall.

A costly, not to mention embarrassing, three-base fielding error by the normally dependable Jose Bautista opened the way for three runs in the seventh inning as the Rangers would go on to upend the streaking Blue Jays 4-1 here at baking Globe Life Park.

A ball off the bat of the speedy Delino DeShields with two runners on and one out set the stage for Toronto's ultimate collapse.

The single carried into shallow right field and Bautista charged in intending to keep Bobby Wilson, the lead Texas runner, from getting no farther than third base, with the Rangers already leading 1-0.

But the ball scooted underneath Bautista's glove, and it was off to the races for the Rangers' base runners. Wilson scored, followed by Hanser Alberto. And by the time the ball was relayed back to Toronto catcher Dioner Navarro, DeShields was sliding past him at home plate to add the third Texas run off Bautista's glaring gaffe.

"I think I just attacked the ball a little too hard," Bautista said after the game. "The outfield grass is cut kind of funky here and you get a lot of ground balls that snake around. We noticed that during BP [batting practice] the first day.

"I felt like my mindset was right in everything I was doing. I knew who was running at second, I knew they would stop him [at third], but I was just too aggressive attacking the ball."

The loss took just a bit of the shine off what otherwise has been an excellent eight-game road trip through three time zones for the Blue Jays, one in which they went 6-2 to reclaim the top spot in the American League East with a 71-56 record.

With second-placed New York enjoying an off day on Thursday, the Blue Jays would lose no ground to the Yankees. Their lead remains at 1.5 games as they return to Toronto for a nine-game homestand that begins Friday night against the Detroit Tigers.

"Obviously the road trip was a successful one," Bautista said. "I wish we would have won [Thursday]. It would have been a superb one if we'd been able to pull that one off."

After losing the first game of their trip to the Phillies, the Blue Jays would go on to win their next six, including a three-game sweep in normally inhospitable Anaheim, Calif., against a solid Los Angeles Angels outfit.

Then it was on to Texas for the three-game set against the Rangers, who, like the Angels, still have designs on making the postseason.

After winning the first two against the Rangers, the Blue Jays were poised for their second consecutive series sweep of a quality AL opponent.

"You've got to be happy with the way we've been playing lately," said Toronto starter Marco Estrada. "We're not going to score 15 runs every time out."

On a day when the first-pitch temperature was 33 C and it got hotter as the game wore on, it was a difficult environment for Estrada and his Texas counterpart Yovani Gallardo to work in.

Estrada was extended to 33 pitches in the first inning alone – the Rangers scored first when Mitch Moreland had a nine-pitch at bat before hitting a line drive to right to score DeShields from third base.

The Blue Jays came close to tying it in the top of the second with Ben Revere perched at second base for Cliff Pennington.

The Rangers outfielders were not stationed especially deep for Pennington, mindful of his tepid batting average, but the Toronto infielder crossed them up, barreling the ball to left field.

Will Venable raced back and made a great diving catch to save a run.

"I thought there was no chance he's got that ball, because he was in shallow," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "It's a great play."

Estrada (11-8) gutted it out through six innings, allowing one Texas run off four hits to take the loss.

In the seventh, it was reliever Liam Hendriks on the mound for Toronto, and he allowed six consecutive hits before recording the first out.

Gallardo (11-9) once again handcuffed the Blue Jays, recording his second scoreless start of the season off Toronto, allowing just three hits over 5 1/3 innings to get the win. Toronto came back to score its lone run in the eighth inning when Edwin Encarnacion doubled to right, extending his hit streak to 22 games, scoring Bautista all the way from first.

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ON DECK

The Toronto Blue Jays return from their highly successful eight-game road trip in first place in the American League East to begin a nine-game home stand tonight against the free-falling Detroit Tigers.

The three-game weekend set will mark the return of pitcher Drew Hutchison to the 25-man roster, and he is scheduled to start Saturday's game. The Blue Jays optioned Hutchison to Triple-A Buffalo on Aug. 17 as off-days allowed Toronto to go with a four-man rotation on their road swing.

Hutchison made one start while with the Bisons, last Sunday, going four innings, allowing two runs off three hits to go with three walks. Hutchison was not all that thrilled about his brief Triple-A sojourn and will have something to prove on his return to the big-league club. His 12-2 record on the year looks impressive, but his home and away splits are concerning to the club. In home starts, Hutchison is 10-1 with a 2.57 earned run average; away from Rogers Centre, he has posted a 2-1 mark in 11 starts with an ugly ERA of 9.00.

Aug. 28, 7:07 p.m. (ET): Toronto RHP R.A. Dickey (8-10, 4.26) vs. Detroit LHP Matt Boyd (1-2, 4.88).

Aug. 29, 1:07 p.m. (ET): Toronto RHP Drew Hutchison (12-2, 5.06) vs. Detroit RHP Buck Farmer (0-2, 7.80).

Aug. 30, 1:07 p.m. (ET): Toronto LHP Mark Buehrle (13-6, 3.60) vs. Detroit RHP Alfredo Simon (11-8 4.89).

All games at Rogers Centre.