TORONTO — On most nights, nine runs – and five homers – should be enough to guarantee victory, but an Orioles team that was forced to dig out of an early five-run hole against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon still fell short despite one of their best offensive performances this month.
The Orioles dropped their third straight game in Toronto, 10-9, and lost their four-game series against the division rivals at the Rogers Centre. The Orioles continue their two-city division road trip with three games in Boston starting Tuesday.
They appeared done Sunday after Ubaldo Jimenez tanked in the first inning, allowing five runs and lasting just 1/3 inning. But strange things happen when the Orioles and Blue Jays meet in Toronto, especially inside the hitter-friendly open-air dome.
The Orioles stranded the tying run on third base when Jason Grilli struck out Jonathan Schoop on three pitches to end the game.
"It was a tough hole to dig out of on the road," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "But there was good energy in the dugout. Got some good innings for the most part out of [long reliever Vance] Worley, who kept us engaged in the game. I took him about as far as we could take him. Obviously if we didn't have an off day tomorrow, we couldn't have done some things that we had to do today."
Adam Jones hit two homers, recording his 10th career multi-homer game. His two-run blast off Blue Jay reliever Pat Venditte cut Toronto's lead to 10-8. The Orioles homered three times in a four-run fourth inning off Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez, including Chris Davis' two-run blast, his fifth in as many games.
This was the first time the Orioles lost when hitting five or more homers in a game since Aug. 28, 2007. They were 8-0 this season when hitting four or more homers in a game.
"Our job as an offense is to go out there and score runs," Davis said. "We can't worry about the pitching staff. We can't worry about anything but going out and doing our job. And that is what we're focused on. It's a tough stretch but we have confidence in our guys that they will bounce back and make the adjustments they need to make.
Jones led off the fourth inning with a solo home run into the dome's second deck in center field, his 10th of the season, and Matt Wieters also hit a solo homer, his fifth of the year, to bring the Orioles within a run. Pedro Alvarez hit a solo shot in the fourth.
With the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, Alvarez came within a few feet of a grand slam, but Blue Jays right fielder Ezequiel Carrera made a leaping catch against the wall to rob Alvarez of extra bases. The Orioles had to settle for a sacrifice fly on that ball to cut the gap to 10-9, and Jason Grilli struck out Schoop to end the game.
"We had our chances," Showalter said. "I really applaud our guys. We came real close and put a good scare in them. But you get those short starts close together like we have, I'm not going to let our bullpen get unhealthy. Just not going to let it happen."
Six of the seven games between the Orioles and Blue Jays this season have been decided by one run.
This was the first time the Orioles allowed 10 runs in consecutive games since May 17-18, 2013 against Tampa Bay.
North of the border bashers
Davis has now homered in five straight games, one shy of the Orioles' franchise record set by Davis (2012) and Reggie Jackson (1976).
"I feel good in the box," Davis said. "I think a lot of it is from having good at-bats. Keep going out there and try to grind out good at-bats. You may not always be the hero so to speak, but you go out there and take pride in your work."
Davis (16) and Jones (13) have the most homers of any opposing players in Toronto over the past five seasons.
"I couldn't tell you," Davis said about his success at Rogers Centre. "I think if it was that easy, you know everybody would be doing it. I think we swung the bat well this series. We'll have a day off tomorrow and take some time to enjoy a quick break and get back after it [in Boston]."
'Vanimal' keeps Orioles in game
Jimenez's shortest outing of his career forced the Orioles to turn to the bullpen early. Manager Buck Showalter purposely didn't use Worley on Saturday just in case he was needed for an extended outing Sunday.
Worley was needed, and proved to be instrumental in keeping the Orioles in the game, throwing 4 1/3 innings, tying his longest outing this season in relief.
Worley allowed two runs on four hits, including a leadoff homer by Kevin Pillar in the third. He struck out five.
"Vance gave us about 60 [pitches]," Showalter said "That was the extent on him. We knew we might need some length behind Ubaldo today. The game doesn't stop and they don't call timeout for you to go get someone from [Triple-A] Norfolk. It is kind of why we went through the game yesterday the way we did.
Despite all the Orioles' homers, Toronto catcher Russell Martin's three-run homer in the sixth off right-hander Mychal Givens proved to be the decisive blast in the game, giving the Blue Jays a 10-6 lead.
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Givens entered that at bat having allowed just one home run to 90 plate appearances against right-hander hitters.
The Orioles bullpen accounted for 10 2/3 innings over the past two games, allowing 12 runs over that span.
It's not you, it's us
The Orioles probably need a break from Toronto first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who tortured them throughout their four-game series at Rogers Centre.
Starting with his walk-off homer Friday, Encarnacion reached base in nine consecutive plate appearances over a three-game stretch against the Orioles.
On Sunday, he reached base in his first three plate appearances – hitting an RBI single in the first, raking a double in the second and walking in the fourth – before his streak ended with a fielder's choice in the sixth.
Encarnacion homered three times this series, including twice Saturday.