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06/24/09 11:30 PM ET

Arroyo has annual struggle in Toronto

Cincinnati right-hander allows seven runs in 3 2/3 innings

TORONTO -- All that could be said on Wednesday night was that Bronson Arroyo didn't have as rough an outing as he had at Rogers Centre exactly one year ago.

Unfortunately for the Reds, that wasn't saying much at all. In an 8-2 loss to the Blue Jays, Arroyo gave up three home runs during a five-run first inning and seven runs -- six earned -- in only 3 2/3 innings in the game.

"This park hasn't been very kind to Bronson," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "They jumped him right away."

Meanwhile, for a Reds club that has lost four straight and nine of 12, it was an all-too-familiar night offensively. Blue Jays starter Scott Richmond gave up only two hits over seven innings, while Cincinnati collected just four hits overall.

On June 24, 2008, in what was one of the worst outings in Major League history, Arroyo gave up 10 earned runs and 11 hits, including three home runs, in just one-plus inning. For a time on Wednesday, he seemed poised to equal that performance.

"I'd much rather face these guys at our park next time," said Arroyo, who gave up eight hits and three walks with two strikeouts. "I don't know if that's going to happen. Both times I've been here, it's been a struggle. It just seems like they're swinging at everything on the plate and taking everything off the plate."

After Marco Scutaro led off the Toronto first inning by working a full-count walk against Arroyo (8-6), two home runs came on the next two pitches. Aaron Hill lifted his first-pitch breaking ball over the left-field fence, and Vernon Wells did likewise with his first offering, a fastball.

"I was surprised Hill hit that first-pitch breaking ball out of the ballpark after walking Scutaro," Arroyo said. "It was bang, bang, bang, and the next thing I knew, it was 5-0."

Scott Rolen scorched a liner past Arroyo's head for a single just before Adam Lind deposited a 3-1 pitch to left field for a two-run homer that gave the Blue Jays a five-run lead -- still with no outs. Eight batters came to the plate in the bottom of the first.

In the second, Scutaro hit a one-out double and scored on Wells' two-out RBI double. Some misfortune struck in the fourth, when Russ Adams beat out a chopper that awkwardly bounced at second baseman Brandon Phillips. On a Wells fielder's-choice grounder to third, Danny Richar made a wide throw to second for an error.

Scutaro later scored on another fielder's-choice play, and Arroyo was finished one batter later when he issued a walk that loaded the bases. His ERA for the past two starts at Rogers Centre is 30.90.

"We were kind of behind the eight ball from the very beginning," Baker said. "It makes it tough, especially when you're not scoring a lot of runs. You can only get behind so much early."

In a bullpen-saving night, reliever Josh Roenicke worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings, while Carlos Fisher allowed one run over his two frames.

The Reds got a run back in the second when Jonny Gomes took Richmond deep with a solo homer to left field. In the third, Chris Dickerson drew a one-out walk, went to second base on a wild pitch and scored on a Jerry Hairston Jr. single.

After that, Richmond (6-4) retired the final 14 batters he faced. The Reds dropped to two games below .500 (34-36), but they remain 4 1/2 games out of first place behind the Cardinals in the National League Central race.

"We're not in a very good way these last four games," Baker said. "We have to get back on the winning trail. That will start tomorrow."

If there is any consolation to be had for Arroyo, he turned his 2008 debacle in Toronto into the starting point of a turnaround. His 19 victories since that game trail only Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay's 22.

"Bronson will go through some bad periods for a couple of starts, get it back together and rattle off five or six [wins] in a row," Baker said. "That's what I'm hoping will happen."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.