BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles are suddenly making a habit of coming through in the clutch and winning the kind of games they used to lose with regularity.
Adam Jones led off the eighth inning with a tiebreaking homer and the Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 on Thursday night, completing a three-game sweep with their fourth straight victory.
Jones ripped the first pitch from Casey Janssen (1-1) into the first row of the left-field stands, barely eluding the leap of Eric Thames. It was his sixth homer of the season.
Asked if he enjoyed a flair for the dramatic, Jones said: “If the situation calls for it, I’m not going to shy away from it. …
I’m just looking for something out over the plate. Not necessarily a first-pitch slider away, but I was looking for a heater up, something to drive. I was able to just get enough of it to hit it out.”
Darren Oliver replaced Janssen after Jones’ drive and allowed Matt Wieters’ single before Chris Davis hit a two-run homer to right-center.
Darren O’Day (2-0) pitched two perfect innings in relief of Brian Matusz, who might have saved his spot in the rotation with a strong outing. Luis Ayala worked the ninth for his first save.
“I just wish we could have got (Matusz) a W. … But we won as a team and he understands that,” Jones said. “He went out and threw six very, very, very good innings.”
Matusz, attempting to snap a career-high 12-game losing streak, yielded two runs — none earned — and four hits. He walked two and fanned three.
“This year, I’ve felt good out there in multiple outings,” Matusz said. “Just today I was able to be consistent and really
find myself getting into a groove and putting everything together, and I’m just not trying to do too much but being able to hit locations and make good pitches.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn’t sound as though he was considering a change in the rotation.
“He pitches like that, he’s going to get all the wins he wants,” Showalter said.
The Blue Jays have lost three straight and are 1-5 against the Orioles this season.
“We’ve got to play better collectively,” Toronto manager John Farrell said. “The way this road trip started out, with a
four-game sweep in Kansas City, to have it end this way kind of leaves a bad taste.”
Toronto scored three runs in three defeats at Camden Yards and Jose Bautista said the Blue Jays’ offense has to produce more — and more consistently.
“I’m not really worried about the offense,” Bautista said. “I know we’re going to pick it up. Hopefully, it’s sooner rather than later. Our pitching is doing awesome. On the offensive side, we’d like to give them better support.”
Baltimore’s Ryan Flaherty had two hits and an RBI, the firsts of his major league career.
Drew Hutchison, making his second major league start, held the Orioles to two hits through four innings before Baltimore went ahead 1-0 in the fifth.
Davis worked the right-hander for a leadoff walk and Mark Reynolds lined a single to center. Davis moved to third on Nick
Johnson’s fly to right and Flaherty hit a sacrifice fly.
Toronto went ahead in the sixth on an error by Johnson at first base that allowed two runs to score.
Yunel Escobar led off with a single and Bautista drew a one-out walk. One out later, Thames hit a 1-2 pitch from Matusz down the first base line and past Johnson, who missed an attempt to backhand the bouncer, the miscue letting both runners score.
The Orioles tied the game in the sixth, taking advantage of Escobar’s error at shortstop.
Nick Markakis doubled and Jones hit a grounder into the hole. Escobar fielded the infield hit but threw wildly to first, allowing Markakis to score the tying run and Jones to advance to second.
Luis Perez relieved and got Wieters to ground into a fielder’s choice, with Jones erased at third.
Hutchison worked five-plus innings, allowing two runs and six hits.
NOTES: Matusz wasn’t charged with a run for the first time since Sept. 27, 2010. … Baltimore’s Nolan Reimold singled in the fifth, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. He returned after sitting out four games with neck spasms. … Showalter said RHP Jim Johnson, who has been hospitalized for treatment of a bacterial infection, could be released as soon as Friday morning. Showalter would not commit to how quickly Johnson will resume his role as closer. … RHP Dustin McGowan, on the 15-day disabled list while recovering from a foot injury, experienced right shoulder problems while long tossing and will be shut down for two weeks, Farrell said. An MRI revealed inflammation. … Nick Johnson went 0 for 3 and is 0 for 26 to start his Orioles career. That breaks Ron Hansen’s record for the longest hitless streak by a position player at the start of his Orioles career. Hansen went 0 for 25 from April 1958-April 1960. … Toronto starting pitchers have gone at least five innings in 21 straight games dating to last Sept. 27.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)