TORONTO (AP) — Three solo blasts gave Baltimore the major league lead in home runs, and helped the Orioles extend their lead atop the American League East.
Chris Davis homered and Caleb Joseph and Jonathan Schoop went deep back to back as the Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-3 Tuesday.
“A big statement game for us here the first game of the series,” said right-hander Bud Norris, who pitched 5 1-3 innings to win for the first time in three starts.
The AL East-leading Orioles moved five games ahead of second-place Toronto, which lost its fourth straight.
“We’re going to do everything we can to come out and create some space,” Joseph said. “We’ve got guys behind us that are coming after us hard. These are the type of games where you can gain ground.”
The three homers moved Baltimore ahead of Toronto for the big league lead. The Orioles have hit 136 homers this season, one more than the Blue Jays.
Davis, Nelson Cruz and J.J. Hardy all had two RBIs and the Orioles won their third straight game, each in a different city. Baltimore beat Seattle at home Sunday and won at Washington Monday in a makeup game.
Norris (9-7) allowed two runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings as the Orioles won their 34 road game, matching the Los Angeles Dodgers for the most in the majors. Baltimore is 19-8 away from home since May 31.
Toronto starter Mark Buehrle (11-8) lost for the seventh time in 11 starts, allowing four runs and 10 hits in four innings. He walked three and struck out three.
“They just hit him around pretty good,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
After stranding five runners over the first two innings against Buehrle, Baltimore opened the scoring on Hardy’s RBI double in the third.
Joseph led off the fourth with his third home run in three games and Schoop followed with a drive to left. It’s the fourth time this season the Orioles have hit back-to-back homers, and the first time Davis wasn’t involved.
Toronto’s Colby Rasmus replied with a two-run drive in the bottom half, but Davis made it 6-2 with a one-out homer off Toronto rookie Aaron Sanchez in the fifth.
Blue Jays: Toronto activated third baseman Brett Lawrie off the 15-day disabled list before the game and placed infielder Steve Tolleson on the paternity list. It was an abbreviated return for Lawrie, who left after three innings with tightness in his lower back. He’ll undergo an MRI Wednesday.
Orioles: Right-hander Dylan Bundy struck out seven and walked none in 4 1-3 shutout innings at Class-A Frederick. Bundy, who had Tommy John surgery in June, 2013, allowed five hits.
Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen will look to extend his streak of success away from home when he faces struggling Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison on Wednesday. Chen is 6-1 with a 3.93 ERA in nine road starts, while Hutchison has won just once in five starts and has seen his ERA rise from 3.81 to 4.62 over that span.
Davis, who came with 23 strikeouts in his 48 at bats since the All-Star break, was dropped to seventh in the order, the lowest he’d batted since September, 2012. Davis led the majors with a career-high 53 home runs last season but has struggled this year, batting just .196.
BIG SERIES FOR THE BIRDS
This marks the latest point in the season that the Orioles and Blue Jays have met as the top two teams in the AL East since Aug. 10, 1992. Toronto beat Baltimore for the AL East title in a season-ending series in 1989.
MELKY MAKES GOOD
Toronto outfielder Melky Cabrera, whose 10-game hit streak was snapped Sunday, went 2 for 4 with two singles and a walk. Cabrera has at least one hit in 16 of his past 19 games and is batting .373 (28 for 75) over that stretch.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)