SEATTLE -- The Blue Jays' bullpen does not appear to respond well to series-opening games at Safeco Field.
Earlier this season, the club blew a six-run lead in the eighth inning for a heartbreaking loss. The downfall Monday night wasn't nearly as dramatic, but the end result was the same.
The Blue Jays surrendered back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the eighth, turning a power surge of their own into a 6-5 loss to the Mariners on Monday night at Safeco Field.
"I hung a breaking ball terribly bad," said lefty Trever Miller, who surrendered the game-tying homer to Mike Carp. "Probably one of the top five worst pitches I've thrown 0-2 in a game with a one-run lead. He did what you're supposed to do with that ball, put it in the seats."
Miller was called into the game to protect a 5-4 lead in the eighth and retired the first batter he faced. He got two strikes on Carp with a pair of fastballs, then left an offspeed pitch over the heart of the plate.
Carp jumped all over it and sent the ball into the right-field seats for his second home run of the game.
Miller was then lifted in favor of right-hander Jon Rauch, but the results didn't improve. Rauch promptly served up a 1-2 slider that outfielder Casper Wells hit into the seats in left.
That sent Rauch to his fourth loss of the season, and the veteran reliever now has a 7.88 ERA in his past eight innings of work.
Rauch sat in the dugout for a long period of time after the game, staring out onto the field. He declined to speak with the media, but Miller voiced enough disappointment about his own performance.
"I was trying to sweep the ball off the plate, get a swing and miss or set up the next pitch," Miller said. "I never got it there, and it cost us the game.
"That's my role. You come in and you throw one bad pitch, and it can be catastrophic. It's been a year where I haven't been getting away with anything. I made a mistake tonight and I paid for it."
The Blue Jays had the late lead thanks to a trio of home runs. Eric Thames, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie each went yard as the club scored early and often against Seattle right-hander Michael Pineda.
Thames opened the scoring in the top of the first inning, sending the first pitch he saw over the wall in right field for his third homer in three games. The two-run blast extended Thames' hitting streak to six games, and he now has five RBIs and five extra-base hits over that span.
Lind's home run came two innings later during a two-out rally. Jose Bautista drew a walk and Lind followed with a shot to right field on a 1-0 slider. The veteran first baseman has continued to rebound from a rough month of August and now has two home runs and seven RBIs in his past three games.
Lawrie, the British Columbia native who was making his "homecoming" to the Pacific Northwest, followed in the fourth with a solo shot to left field.
"It was a great feeling," Lawrie said of homering in front of his friends and family. "I could tell I had a lot of people behind me, which was awesome. I got a good pitch I could hit. ... I was fortunate enough to barrel the ball and hit it deep. But obviously a win would be much more thrilling right now."
Lawrie's third homer of the season put Toronto in front, 5-4, and for a while, it appeared as though it would give rookie starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez the first victory of his career.
Alvarez worked his way through five innings while surrendering four runs on six hits. His roughest inning occurred in the second, when he gave up three runs on two hits, a walk and a hit batsman.
The 21-year-old surrendered another run in the third on a home run from Carp. The Seattle first baseman became the 14th Mariners rookie to hit two homers in one game.
Henderson left the game pleased with his ability to bounce back from the rough second inning.
"After they scored all those runs, I made a little adjustment," Henderson said. "Instead of throwing the ball over the plate to lefties, I tried to throw inside and out.
"I started using my changeup a little more from that inning on, and I was more successful because I was moving the pitches in and out and changing speeds with the changeup."
Alvarez's performance also drew some praise from across the diamond.
"He looked pretty good," Wells said. "Seemed like he was losing a little command early with his fastball and got it settled down a little more as the game progressed.
"But he hides the ball really well, kind of turning, especially against right-handed hitters. It's a little deceptive and the ball kind of jumps at you. He's got good stuff. He's going to be a good pitcher, definitely."