SEATTLE - Felix Hernandez just wanted to throw a first-pitch strike.
Turned out to be exactly what Jose Reyes was looking for and started Seattle's ace toward his first loss since late May.
"A lot of it was I fell behind since the beginning," Hernandez said. "A leadoff homer; that was a tough game."
Reyes homered on the first pitch of the game, added an RBI single to cap Toronto's big fourth inning, and the Blue Jays handed Hernandez his first loss since May 25 with a 7-2 win over the Mariners on Tuesday.
The Blue Jays battered Hernandez (11-5) and knocked him out after just five innings, matching his shortest start of the season. Hernandez was not sharp and when he missed, the Blue Jays took advantage.
"He wasn't getting a whole lot off the corners. It was a pretty tight strike zone," Seattle acting manager Robby Thompson said. "When he missed, it was out over the plate and he was hit."
Hernandez remained stuck on 11 wins. In his previous two starts, he was burned by the inability of Seattle's bullpen to hold a lead and get Hernandez his 12th victory.
On Tuesday, Hernandez was at fault early, giving up a homer to Reyes, but Seattle's defence did him no favours. The Mariners committed three errors that led to three unearned runs while Hernandez was on the mound.
Despite lasting just five innings, Hernandez's ERA only rose from 2.30 to 2.39. Hernandez had not lost since May 25, a span of 12 starts.
Hernandez didn't want to put any of the blame on the errors made behind him.
"It's part of the game. I made a couple of mistakes, fell behind a lot," Hernandez said. "They capitalized and scored some runs."
Josh Johnson (2-8) pitched well with his potential spot in the rotation at stake. Johnson threw five scoreless innings and won for the first time since June 23, snapping a six-game losing streak.
Reyes brought the huge contingent of Blue Jays' fans to their feet from the start. He lined Hernandez's first fastball of the night 399 feet into the seats in right for his eighth homer of the season. It was Reyes' 18th career leadoff homer and first this season.
For Hernandez, it was just the second leadoff homer allowed in his career and a precursor to a tough night.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the game," Reyes said. "I had that approach before the game I was looking for a fastball right in the middle the first pitch and I try to put my best swing and that's what happened."
Toronto scored three times in the fourth helped by two Seattle errors. Emilio Bonifacio had the big hit with a two-out double into the gap in right-centre field.
Bonifacio's hit came after three defensive breakdowns by Seattle: Kyle Seager committed his second error of the night, shortstop Brad Miller threw wildly to second trying to start a double play and Miller failed to hold the ball when tagging Brett Lawrie on a stolen base.
Reyes followed Bonifacio with an RBI single to cap the big inning. Toronto then scored twice more in the fifth when Colby Rasmus dropped an RBI single on a two-out, 0-2 pitch from Hernandez. That was followed by Lawrie's RBI single and a 6-0 lead.
"Anytime you give these offensive minded clubs — the Red Sox, Baltimore and these guys here — extra outs, it's not a good thing," Thompson said. "It made Felix work a little harder and his pitch count got up."
Seattle's ugly night defensively was capped in the seventh when Raul Ibanez committed the Mariners' fourth error spiking an attempted throw from left field into the ground just a few feet in front of him and allowing Jose Bautista to score Toronto's seventh run.
Toronto's offensive output made it an easy night for Johnson, who in his previous four starts had an ERA of 14.06, but was masterful against the Mariners. After getting out of a jam in the first, Seattle never got a runner to third base until the seventh on Miller's two-run triple.
"He's got a lively fastball, good (sinker) and he was mixing in the curve ball and we were just chasing it," Miller said. "Personally, I chased a couple. Just a good mix. Then they brought in their bullpen and we just couldn't get anything going."
Notes: Rasmus made a highlight catch robbing Morales of a potential home run in the sixth inning pulling in a deep drive to centre field. ... Seattle optioned closer Tom Wilhelmsen to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday in the hopes he can rediscover the command of his fastball. Seattle recalled reliever Carter Capps to take Wilhelmsen's spot. Seattle also released OF Jason Bay, who was designated for assignment on July 29. ... Texas' Ian Kinsler is the only other batter to hit a leadoff homer off Hernandez. ... The four errors by Seattle were its most since committing six vs. the Angels in September 2011.