TORONTO -- A frustrated Mark Buehrle has a theory about why things haven't been working out for the Toronto Blue Jays this season.
Jeremy Hellickson won his fifth straight decision, Desmond Jennings reached base four times and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Blue Jays 4-3 Saturday, Toronto's seventh loss in 10 games.
Tabbed as World Series contenders this spring after a winter of wheeling and dealing, the Blue Jays are last in the AL East.
"Maybe we were overrated," Buehrle said. "Maybe we aren't as good as we thought we were."
Slugger Jose Bautista homered for the second straight game but it wasn't enough.
The Blue Jays have dropped six of their past seven series. They've lost 14 of 21 games since matching a franchise record with 11 straight wins in June.
"It just seems like nothing is going our way," Buehrle said. "Everybody's trying. Nobody can pinpoint what's going on. I can't pinpoint what's going on. It's frustrating. Everybody's out there trying to turn this around, trying to win games. It's just not happening right now."
Trailing 4-2, Toronto loaded the bases with nobody out against Joel Peralta in the eighth, but couldn't produce a run.
The Blue Jays pushed across a run against Fernando Rodney in the ninth, but stranded runners at second and third.
"We had our opportunities, especially late, but we couldn't get that big one," manager John Gibbons said.
Rookie Wil Myers had two RBIs in his first career start as the cleanup hitter as the Rays won for the 16th time in 18 games. Myers, who finished 2 for 4, has nine hits in his past 17 at bats.
Since starting the season 14-18, the Rays are a major league-best 43-23 since May 8. They visit the AL East-leading Red Sox for four games starting Monday.
Jennings went 3 for 4 with a walk and scored twice.
Pitching despite suffering from an illness, Hellickson (9-3) allowed two runs and five hits in five innings, walked three and struck out three. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.19 ERA in his past six starts.
Hellickson started feeling nauseous and lightheaded following batting practice on Friday, and said the heat made things rough on him Saturday
"It felt pretty good, it was just so hot I got a little lightheaded those first couple of innings," he said.
Alex Torres was perfect in the sixth and seventh but left after walking Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to begin the eighth. Peralta came on and loaded the bases by walking Adam Lind, but escaped by getting Colby Rasmus to foul out, striking out Maicer Izturis looking and fanning J.P. Arencibia on a 3-2 pitch.
"It was Houdini-esque," Maddon said of Peralta's escape. "Just a masterful job on his part."
Gibbons, who was the bench coach in Kansas City when Peralta pitched for the Royals, said the 37-year-old right-hander has "turned into a heck of a reliever."
"He's good under pressure, he doesn't give in to anything," Gibbons said.
Fernando Rodney's fielding error allowed Brett Lawrie to score from third on Encarnacion's infield chopper in the ninth. Rodney responded by getting Lind to fly out, wrapping up his 23rd save in 28 chances.
"When you keep nibbling back and keep nibbling back and get within striking range and then you can't strike it's frustrating," Lawrie said.
Buehrle (5-7) lost his second straight start, giving up four runs, three earned, in seven innings. The 10 hits he allowed matched a season-high. He walked three and struck out five.
Buehrle lost at home for the first time since May 1 against Boston. He's 4-2 in 10 home starts this season but 1-5 in 10 road outings.
Myers gave the Rays the lead with a sacrifice fly in the first, and Tampa Bay scored three more off Buehrle in the third. Sam Fuld and Jennings both singled and Ben Zobrist walked to load the bases before Evan Longoria drove in a run with a fielder's choice grounder. Myers followed with an RBI single and a third run scored when second baseman Lawrie made a throwing error on Ryan Roberts' grounder.
Bautista got the Blue Jays on the board with a two-out homer in the bottom half, his 22nd. Encarnacion followed with a double and Lind walked, but Hellickson struck out Rasmus to end the threat.
Rays DH Luke Scott singled to begin the eighth, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games.
NOTES: Rays SS Yunel Escobar (right hamstring) missed his second straight game. Manager Joe Maddon said Escobar likely won't return until Monday. ... Tampa Bay is 23-22 on the road. ... A group of about 1,000 Montreal Expos fans sat in the left field seats, part of an effort to try and lure a big league team back to Quebec. ... Former Blue Jays slugger Carlos Delgado will be honored before Sunday's game when his name is added to the team's Level of Excellence. ... Tampa Bay RHP Chris Archer (4-2) will face Toronto RHP R.A. Dickey (8-10) in Sunday's series finale.