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Misplays costly as Orioles lose fifth straight, 4-3 in Toronto; wild-card deficit is 3 1/2 games

The Orioles have left themselves with little margin for error over the regular season’s final three weeks.

This time of the year, every loss is more costly, and every mistake is magnified, and in Monday night’s series opener in Toronto, the Orioles’ blooper-riddled game helped do them in.

The Orioles weren’t really beaten by the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, more sore giving a win away in a 4-3 loss at the Rogers Centre.

The one-run loss — their fifth straight overall and third straight decided by three runs or fewer — was magnified by an error-filled second inning that set the tone for a frustrating defeat.

With the loss, the Orioles (71-73) fell to 3 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second American League wild-card spot --- five teams ahead of them for that spot with 18 games to go — while dropping to two games under .500 for the first time since Aug. 26.

"Just got to just get better," said center fielder Adam Jones. "At the end of the day, we just have to win. … But it's Sept. 11. It's win time, so all that cliche crap can go out the window at this point. So we just need to win, point-blank, simple, clear-cut."

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With the Rogers Centre roof open, Mark Trumbo lost a fly ball in right field in the twilight off the bat of Teoscar Hernández to open the bottom of the second inning, a ball that bounced well behind him and into foul ground. When Trumbo corralled the ball near the seats, he lost the ball into the stands while attempting to transfer it to his throwing hand. Hernández landed on third with a double and E-9.

Two batters later, No. 9 hitter Darwin Barney hit a ball into the right-center-field gap that center fielder Jones chased to the wall, but as Jones' arm went forward to throw to second, the ball fell out of his hand, and Barney landed on third with a RBI double and E-8.

The Blue Jays took advantage against Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jiménez, taking a 2-0 lead on Richard Ureña's double that scored Barney.

"You play the game hard, man, things happen," Jones said. "We just have to get back to the simple fundamentals. A tough ball to right [lost] in the dusk, a ball that slipped out of my hand in right-center. These, they're not mental mistakes, they're physical mistakes."

In the sixth inning, right-hander Miguel Castro allowed a run without allowing a ball out of the infield.

After opening the inning by hitting Miguel Montero with a pitch, Hernández reached on an infield single on a roller to third base. Ryan Goins grounded to first, moving both base runners into scoring position before Barney rolled a ball to first baseman Chris Davis, but with Castro converging, Davis had to toss around him to get the ball to second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who failed to get his foot on the first-base bag before Barney ran through.

Jiménez survived a first inning in which he loaded the bases after failing to get two borderline strike-three calls down and away before walking Josh Donaldson and then yielding a swinging bunt single to load the bases.

"Yeah that's the way everything is going against us right now," Jiménez said. "We're in a bad streak. Hopefully we can get it going tomorrow and get out of it. In the second inning, you saw how they scored and when Castro was pitching, too, they didn't hit a ball out of the infield and they scored a run. That's part of the game."

Though he didn't get help from his defense in the second inning, Jiménez allowed three runs over five innings, the other run off him coming on Goins' homer in the fourth.

Trumbo homered in the fifth, and the Orioles’ other runs came on run-scoring hits by Jones and Caleb Joseph.

Trumbo homers

With the Orioles trailing 3-1 in the fifth inning, Trumbo hit his 24th homer of the season off Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada to cut the lead to one run.

Trumbo took a 91-mph fastball into the seats in left-center field an estimated 400 feet on the eighth pitch of the at-bat after fouling off four straight two-strike pitches after falling behind 0-2.

The home run ended a 0-for-13 slide for Trumbo over his past five games.

Jiménez escapes early

Jiménez appeared doomed for another early exit after loading the bases in the first inning, but he didn't allow a run in a 29-pitch opening frame and managed to last five innings.

Jiménez retired the first two hitters he faced, then issued a walk to Donaldson and allowed a single to Kendrys Morales before Kevin Pillar reached on a swinging bunt down the third-base line to load the bases.

But Jiménez struck out Montero to escape the jam, getting him to swing through a splitter.

"He was on," Showalter said of Jiménez. "You could tell, he had a real good look about him tonight. He was going to keep us in that ballgame and he did. … We just couldn't catch a break defensively."

Jiménez, making his first start since Aug. 30 after being sent to the bullpen last weekend, allowed three runs over five innings, giving up six hits and walking two. The homer by Goins was the only hit he allowed after the second inning. This was Jiménez's first 100-pitch outing (102) since he threw 105 on Aug. 6 against the Detroit Tigers.

"Yeah, especially after going out there the first two innings and throwing a lot of pitches, it takes a lot," Jiménez said. "Probably after the game, that's when I felt it the most because it's been a while since I've thrown 100 pitches. I mean, what can you do? You have to go out there and compete and try to give your team a chance to win."

eencina@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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