Carroll County Times

Orioles split doubleheader with Blue Jays

BALTIMORE - Every game is important for teams in pennant races in September. The Baltimore Orioles had an opportunity to win twice Monday, but were unable to complete the sweep in the second game of a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Orioles (88-66) won the first game 4-1 behind strong performances from Adam Jones and Steve Johnson. In the second game, the Orioles fell 9-5 before 31,015 at Camden Yards, as starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen struggled.

"We played a good first game," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, "and had our chances in the second game. [We] did some good things pitching-wise, just not enough of them. [It's] very hard to sweep a doubleheader in the major leagues."

Chen (12-10) pitched five innings and gave up five runs on nine hits. The left-hander has not won in his last six starts. His last victory was on Aug. 19.

Showalter said he believes that Chen will rebound from his rough stretch in the near future.

"He's spoiled us at a very high level this year and will again," Showalter said. "He gave us a chance to win. He didn't give in."

Chen labored through the first two innings, giving up four runs on five hits including a two-run home run to right-center by Edwin Encarnacion in the first. It was Encarnacion's 41st homer of the season.

"I don't have really good stuff tonight," Chen said through an interpreter. "I started feeling like it's not a good day for me and I tried to fight. ... Definitely just not my day."

Baltimore had several opportunities to take the lead. The Orioles left the bases loaded in the second and fifth innings.

The Orioles scored their first two runs on a two-run single to left by Robert Andino in the second. However, the Orioles stranded three baserunners.

Nate McLouth cut the deficit to 4-3 with an opposite-field home run to left, his fifth blast of the season, in the fifth. Baltimore loaded the bases with two outs, but Endy Chavez grounded out to end the inning.

In the ninth inning, the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs. One run scored, but they could not complete a comeback.

"We had our opportunities," Showalter said. "There's two parts to the equation and one's setting up the potential. Another one's trying to carry through."

Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero (9-14) got into several jams, but was able to work out of them with minimal damage. Romero pitched five innings and gave up four runs on eight hits.

Toronto (67-86) led 5-4 entering the seventh. J.P. Arencibia hit his second career grand slam to left field in the seventh off Orioles reliever Jake Arrieta to extend the Blue Jays' lead to 9-4.

Arrieta struck out all three batters he faced in the sixth, but did not have the same success the next inning.

In the first game, the Orioles' four runs were enough to win. Steve Johnson and the bullpen held Toronto to just one run on eight hits.

Adam Jones went 4 for 4 with a home run, three singles, two RBIs and two runs scored. The four hits tied Jones' season-high in hits, which he also did June 12.

Chris Davis led off the fourth inning with a walk. Adam Jones then hit his 32nd homer of the season to deep left field to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.

"Adam relishes competition, period," Showalter said. "He's obviously had a heck of a year. He's turning into quite a player."

Ryan Flaherty made the score 3-0 in the fifth with an opposite-field home run into the Orioles bullpen. Baltimore scored all four of its runs off Blue Jays starter Henderson Alvarez (9-14).

Alvarez gave up four runs on eight hits in 5 2-3 innings.

Steve Johnson (4-0) pitched five shutout innings, giving up three hits and striking out six. Johnson struggled with his pitch count, throwing 96 pitches.

"He was good," Showalter said. "He was instrumental in us winning. ... He's just got a good presence. He presents a real calm front and is a guy that pitches with a lot of confidence."

The right-hander has won all three starts he has made this year (two against Toronto, one against Seattle), but had not started since Aug. 25 against the Blue Jays.

"I had real good stuff, just wasn't able to command the ball that well," Johnson said. "I got my pitch count up there, but I was just able to minimize the damage."

Toronto scored its run in the eighth inning on an RBI double by Rajai Davis off Baltimore reliever Tommy Hunter. Troy Patton, Hunter and Jim Johnson combined for four innings of relief, giving up one run on four hits.

Johnson picked up his 48th save of the season.

The Orioles remain in a good position to make the playoffs despite losing one game to Toronto and the Yankees winning. Davis said that the team needs to focus on themselves and not pay attention to New York's scores.

"You have to expect those guys to win," Davis said. "I think the biggest thing for us is to continue to go out there and give ourselves a chance to win every game."