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TOR@CLE: Hannahan singles to put Tribe on the board

CLEVELAND -- Carlos Carrasco scooped up the ball, planted his feet, cocked back and zipped a bullet to first base. Carlos Santana was taken aback, surprised at the velocity on the throw, which nearly pulled the first baseman off the bag, and nearly burned a hole through his mitt.

Santana kept his foot on the base long enough to record the third out, as Carrasco retreated to the dugout with his head down, his frustration never more evident after Toronto tagged him for a five-run inning.

It was a frustrating Sunday for all of the Indians, who enter the All-Star break on a three-game skid after falling to the Blue Jays, 7-1.

"My last two games, I've left a couple of pitches a little bit up," said Carrasco, who dropped his second consecutive decision following a dazzling month of June. "Every time when I miss, I've paid the price."

Just as they did the first three games of the series, the Jays grabbed an early lead. Unlike those contests, though, the Indians couldn't muster up a late rally to make it interesting. Instead, Toronto's five-run third proved sufficient.

Eric Thames sparked the onslaught with a two-run homer to right field. With two outs and Jose Bautista on first, Travis Snider walked, J.P. Arencibia singled home a run and Corey Patterson cashed in two more with a double. That's when Rajai Davis sent a dribbler toward the mound, where Carrasco gathered the baseball and unleashed his fury.

Carrasco wasn't shy about his aggravation, admitting he was "a little bit" angry with himself.

Carrasco labored through three innings, tied for his shortest outing of the season. His frustration, suffering pitch count and inability to consistently locate his pitches added up to a seat on the bench in the fourth inning.

"[Pulling a pitcher] is usually a combination of things," Indians pitching coach Tim Belcher said. "The fact of the matter is, they had a bunch of runs on the board, too, in three innings. Carlos is a young guy, and he's still learning to pitch at this level. He's still learning how to handle himself emotionally and mentally at this level."

Carrasco's deficiencies carried over from his most recent start, when he allowed six runs on 10 hits over four innings in a loss against the Yankees. In his five outings prior to that, he had posted a 4-1 record and 0.98 ERA.

"He's not pitching ahead and he's not being as aggressive with his fastball, as he was during that stretch of really good starts that he had," Belcher said. "The last two have obviously been a struggle for him."

Jays starter Brett Cecil, on the other hand, baffled Tribe hitters with a deceptive changeup and a slow, sweeping breaking ball. He yielded just one unearned run in six innings, punching out six to secure his first win since April 15.

The Tribe finally broke through after an RBI single by Jack Hannahan with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. By that time, however, they were already trailing, 7-0, and the Progressive Field crowd of 21,148 was more focused on soaking up rays on a cloudless afternoon than banking on another late-innings rally.

The Indians trailed in the eighth inning of all four games in the series. On Thursday, Travis Hafner captivated Cleveland by capping a five-run ninth with a walk-off grand slam. A day later, the Indians brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth after beginning the inning in a six-run hole. On Saturday, a two-out RBI double by Travis Buck sent the game into extra frames before the Jays won in 10.

There was no such magic on Sunday.

The Indians stranded 13 runners, the third time they've left that many on base in the past five games. Over that stretch, Cleveland has left 51 runners at bay.

"I think it really shows when any pitcher walks two guys in an inning, gives up a couple of hits in an inning, and somehow you work out of it," Cecil said. "I think that's where confidence comes in. I found myself in that position a lot today."

Cleveland's offensive inefficiency prevented it from climbing out of the deep hole it found itself in after the abysmal third inning. Carrasco also surrendered a five-run frame in his start on Tuesday against New York. Belcher hopes a Carrasco resurrection coincides with an Indians' reversal of fortunes following the All-Star break.

"He just didn't get on track today," Belcher said. "We're going to need him to get on track heading into the second half." Comments