By IAN HARRISON, Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) — Orioles closer Zach Britton escaped a nervy ninth inning and Baltimore handed the Toronto Blue Jays their sixth straight loss, 2-1 on Thursday night.
Toronto is off to a franchise-worst 1-8 start. The Blue Jays also lost star slugger Josh Donaldson in the sixth when he aggravated the sore right calf that kept him out of Tuesday’s home opener.
Kevin Gausman (1-0) pitched six innings for his first victory in nine career appearances at Rogers Centre.
Britton took over in the ninth and Troy Tulowitzki hit a one-out single, Russell Martin followed with a walk and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Britton held on for his fourth save, retiring Kevin Pillar on a grounder then getting pinch hitter and former teammate Steve Pearce on a flyball.
Francisco Liriano (0-1), who allowed five runs in one-third of an inning in his season-opening loss to Tampa Bay last week, rebounded nicely against Baltimore. He struck out 10 and gave up two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings.
The Blue Jays, last in the majors with 24 total runs, saw Donaldson get hurt on an RBI double. Starting at DH for the second straight game, Donaldson was injured as he rounded first base, hobbling into second and immediately being replaced.
After Gausman left, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach each worked a scoreless inning.
Britton got Pearce in a key spot for the second time this season. In Baltimore’s second game of the year, Britton got Pearce to ground into a bases-loaded double play to preserve a 3-1 win.
Baltimore strung together four straight hits off Liriano to start the fifth. Wellington Castillo and Trey Mancini singled before Jonathan Schoop and J.J. Hardy hit RBI singles.
Right fielder Jose Bautista made a leaping catch at the wall on a deep drive by Adam Jones to end the inning.
Seeking to spark his offense, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons moved outfielder Ezequiel Carrera into the leadoff spot and dropped Devon Travis, who came in hitless in 23 at bats, to ninth. Neither move paid dividends, as Carrera finished 0 for 4 and Travis went 0 for 3.
Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (shoulder) will throw a bullpen session in Florida on Friday and is expected to make his first rehab start at Double-A Bowie on Monday.
Orioles: LHP Wade Miley (0-0, 0.00) didn’t allow a run in five innings against the Yankees in his first start of the season last week. Miley went 0-2 in two starts against Toronto last year.
Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez (0-0, 1.29) makes his second start of the season. went 4-0 with a 3.00 ERA in five starts against the Orioles last season.