Cleveland Indians pitcher Derek Lowe, right, talks with catcher Carlos Santana during third inning Sunday in Toronto. The Indians lost 3-0 to the Blue Jays.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
TORONTO -- No matter what he tries, Cleveland's Derek Lowe can't seem to find success when pitching away from home.
Carlos Villanueva struck out a career-best eight in six scoreless innings, Jose Bautista had two hits, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Lowe and the Indians 3-0 Sunday.
Lowe came in 0-4 with an 8.88 ERA in his past five road starts and, despite pitching better, was unable to snap his losing streak. The right-hander allowed three runs and three hits in six innings, walked four, and struck out five.
Struggling with his delivery, Lowe acknowledged that he "invented a lot of stuff" over his final three innings.
"I asked guys on the bench for advice," he said. "I changed mechanically probably 50 times, just trying to find anything. The ball wasn't coming out too good so it was just try to invent stuff to keep yourself in the game."
Lowe (8-7) dropped to 2-6 in his last 10 outings.
"[Lowe] pitched well, there's nothing to complain about," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He gave us six solid innings, we just couldn't do anything offensively."
His manager may have been pleased, but Lowe found little to be satisfied with.
"I'm far enough along in my career that wins and losses are the only thing that matters," he said.
Lowe retired the first six Blue Jays batters, but struggled as Toronto batted around in a three-run third.
Kelly Johnson led off with a walk, stole second, and went to third on a throwing error by catcher Carlos Santana before scoring on J.P. Arencibia's one-out single. Arencibia advanced on Brett Lawrie's groundout and scored on a base hit by Colby Rasmus. Jose Bautista singled Rasmus to third and stole second before Edwin Encarnacion walked to load the bases. Adam Lind capped the rally with a walk, scoring Rasmus.
Lowe recovered to retire the next six batters and used a double play to erase a leadoff walk in the sixth before being replaced by Joe Smith.
Making his third start of the season after working in relief for much of the year, Villanueva allowed just three hits and walked five as the Blue Jays won their first series since taking two of three at Miami from June 22-24.
Villanueva (4-0) issued back-to-back walks to Santana and Michael Brantley in the sixth, then ended his outing by striking out Casey Kotchman.
"We just couldn't do anything against Villanueva," Acta said.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis said the Indians weren't patient enough against Villanueva, who kept Cleveland off balance with a strong changeup. "That's his main pitch, it's a good one," Kipnis said. "I thought we could have had a better approach today."
When Villanueva struck out Jack Hannahan to end the second, it was his 500th career strikeout.
Jason Frasor worked the seventh and Darren Oliver pitched the final two innings for his first save as the Blue Jays wrapped up their seventh shutout of the season.
The loss dropped the Indians below .500 on the road at 21-22. Cleveland has lost 16 of its past 24 road games.
NOTES: Indians LHP Rafael Perez (strained back muscle) pitched one scoreless inning for Double-A Akron on Saturday, followed by a brief bullpen session. He's scheduled to throw again today, Acta said. ... Brantley extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a leadoff double in the second.