BALTIMORE — Jose Bautista and Russell Martin each hit first-inning homers to give Toronto a lead it never lost and the Blue Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5-3 on Wednesday night.
The victory gave Toronto (76-57) the win in the crucial three-game series, as the Blue Jays took two games while pushing the Orioles (72-61) four games behind in the American League East.
Toronto also remained two games in front of Boston, which won earlier in the day. The Orioles fell back into a tie with Detroit for the second wild-card spot as the Tigers (72-61) also won.
Bautista led off the game with a homer and Martin added a two-run shot later in the inning to give the Jays a 3-0 lead after just five batters.
Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez (13-2) allowed one unearned run and five hits in six innings after being recalled from Class A Dunedin as the Jays were trying to limit his innings. This was the right-hander’s first start since an Aug. 20 no-decision at Cleveland.
The Jays also got an RBI double from Devon Travis in the seventh plus a solo homer by Michael Saunders an inning later, his second home run in two nights.
Baltimore starter Yovani Gallardo (4-7) could not overcome the two-homer, three-run first inning. He allowed only three hits and no more runs in his last five innings, but the early runs proved too much.
Jonathan Schoop hit a two-run homer in the ninth that pulled the Orioles within two, but they got no closer.
The Orioles also completed a trade late in the game, acquiring outfielder Michael Bourn from Arizona in exchange for minor-league outfielder Jason Heinrich.
Baltimore will move Joey Rickard to the 60-day disabled list — he went on with a thumb injury July 22 (retroactive to one day earlier)– to make room on the 40-man roster.
Toronto used its power to jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first while forcing Gallardo to throw 26 pitches.
Bautista homered to left center on the first pitch of the game. Later in the inning, Martin added his two-out, two-run shot to right that gave the Jays the early three-run lead.
The Orioles didn’t do much in the early innings before breaking out a bit in the fifth. Hyun Soo Kim and Schoop hit back-to-back two-out singles before third baseman Josh Donaldson’s error on Manny Machado’s soft grounder brought in a run.