CLEVELAND — Josh Johnson continues to be plagued by bad luck and bad timing during his first season with the Blue Jays.
The right-hander allowed two runs in seven strong innings on Tuesday night, but the Cleveland Indians handed Toronto its 10th loss in 15 games with a 3-0 victory.
Johnson (1-4) gave up all three of his hits in the fourth – including RBI singles by Nick Swisher and Michael Brantley – after retiring the first 10 batters he faced. The Indians added an insurance run in the eighth off reliever Steve Delabar.
"I thought Josh was great tonight. He pitched good enough to win, that's for sure," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "This was just like that game in San Francisco (a 2-1 loss on June 4), where we just didn't get runs for him. I don't know if I'd call him snakebit, but we just couldn't get that big hit for him tonight."
Third baseman Maicer Izturis had three of the eight hits for the Blue Jays, who left nine men on base and went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
Toronto's lack of offense continued a season-long theme for Johnson, who fell to 0-2 with a 2.10 ERA in his five quality starts. His only victory since coming to the Blue Jays in a 12-player trade with Miami on Nov. 19, 2012 occurred on June 23, when Toronto blasted Baltimore 13-5.
"It is a little bit frustrating, but when we don't score any runs, my job is to throw up zeroes," said Johnson, who struck out six and walked two. "You can't give up a couple of runs and be the guy that loses it for your team.
"There were a lot of good things for me tonight. I thought my slider and my split were good, but there was just that one inning."
Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (7-4) went the first six innings for Cleveland, while relievers Cody Allen, Joe Smith, and Chris Perez tossed one frame apiece. Perez notched his 10th save for the Indians, who lead the American League with 11 shutouts.
Johnson walked Asdrubal Cabrera with one out in the fourth, then gave up three straight singles that put Cleveland ahead 2-0. Jason Kipnis, Swisher, and Brantley accounted for the hits before Johnson retired Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds to end the inning.
The Indians' lone other baserunner off Johnson was Swisher, who walked in the sixth.
"He's good, he's got good stuff," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of the 6-foot-7 hurler. "I know he's had some trouble staying off the disabled list at times, but when he's pitching like that, he's really good."
Toronto only threatened to score twice against Jimenez, who scattered five hits and struck out four.
Colby Rasmus hit a leadoff double and Izturis followed with a single up the middle in the fourth. Third base coach Luis Rivera held Rasmus at third, which Gibbons agreed with, but was stranded there.
Jose Reyes singled to start the fifth inning then stole second base, but Jimenez again set down the next three batters to keep the Blue Jays off the scoreboard.
"You've always got to stay positive, but it's tough sometimes," Johnson said.
Gibbons empathized with Johnson saying, "If Josh can do that every time he goes out there, we've got a shot. We outhit them, but we just didn't outscore them. That's what hurts. We had our chances."
The Indians scored their third run in the eighth off Delabar when Drew Stubbs led off with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Cabrera.
NOTES: The start of the game was delayed by rain for 36 minutes. ... Blue Jays OF Jose Bautista went 0 for 3 against Jimenez and is 1 for 19 in his career against him. ... Blue Jays OF Melky Cabrera (left knee) is scheduled to begin a minor-league rehabilitation assignment Friday, but will not be activated until after the All-Star break. "He should be good to go, but he's got to play some games first," Gibbons said. Cabrera was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 28. ... Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie (left ankle) had his rehab assignment shifted to Triple-A Buffalo and was in the Bisons' lineup Tuesday. Lawrie batted .300 (6 for 20) in seven games at Single-A and Double-A. ... Blue Jays RHP Sergio Santos (right triceps, 60-day DL) and RHP Brandon Morrow (right forearm) continue to make progress, according to Gibbons. ... Toronto released C Ramon Hernandez from his contract with Buffalo. ... Indians RHP Justin Masterson (10-7, 3.78) takes on Blue Jays RHP Esmil Rogers (3-4, 3.84) in the second game of a three-game series Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. Cleveland traded Rogers to Toronto for INF Mike Aviles and C Yan Gomes last November.