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Scott's RBI single in 11th gives Orioles 4-3 win over Blue Jays

One by one, the Buck Showalter-led Orioles have exorcised this season's demons, turning in a winning August, taking a series from the New York Yankees, doing the same to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Left on the checklist was a win -- any type of win -- against the fourth-place Toronto Blue Jays, owners of 12 straight victories without a loss against the American League East cellar-dwelling Orioles.

Mission accomplished, in a dramatic way -- a game-ending single by Luke Scott to score Nick Markakis from second and give the Orioles a 4-3, 11-inning victory.

"It's weighed on us. The Jays are a very good team," said Scott, whose single to right-center field came with one out against Brian Tallet (2-6). "That team over there, you put them in another division and they're going to walk away with it. They have good starting pitching, a pretty good bullpen and they can swing it."

Playing on a night when the Ravens opened their NFL season against the New York Jets in New Jersey, the Orioles (56-88) broke their losing streak to the Blue Jays (73-71) before an announced 9,882, the fourth-smallest crowd at Camden Yards this season and in the stadium's 19-season history.

"Must have been a lot of people from Baltimore go to New York tonight," Showalter joked.

By the time the three-hour, 27-minute marathon ended -- shortly after the Ravens' 10-9 victory -- roughly 1,000 fans remained at Camden Yards. They watched the Orioles pick up their 11th walkoff victory of the season and 12th extra-inning win in 15 tries.

It wasn't an easy one. The Orioles stranded 15 runners. And they needed the longest performance by an Orioles reliever this season to make up for the early loss of one of their key building blocks.

Rookie left-hander Brian Matusz, who had allowed a total of six earned runs in his past four starts, was forced out after the first inning because of a well-placed liner that smashed off his left arm.

On his ninth pitch of the game, Matusz was struck by a liner off the bat of Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar. The ball hit Matusz in the left triceps, and though he finished the inning by getting two more outs, he was done for the night after throwing just 24 pitches.

"It was only going to get worse as the game went on," Showalter said. "I wasn't taking a chance at this point, at any point, actually."

The triceps bruise ended the shortest outing of Matusz's professional career. The previous time he faced the Blue Jays, he lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up six earned runs in a July 18 loss.

"I didn't want to come out at all; you never want to come out of the game," Matusz said. "But it's a smart thing to do in the long run. You don't want things to get worse, by any means."

Matusz had swelling in his arm after the game and said he would be re-evaluated Tuesday before he would know whether he would make his next start.

"It swelled up pretty good; it's going to bruise up a little bit," said Matusz, who iced the triceps and applied pressure packs to it. "It's in a spot that really doesn't scare me too much, its right on the triceps, that's why I didn't feel it when I was throwing."

Matusz wasn't the only key Oriole to exit early. Second baseman Brian Roberts was removed in the top of the ninth after being hit just above the right knee by a pitch from Jason Frasor in the eighth inning. He remained on the bases in the eighth, but was lifted when the Orioles came out to play defense in the ninth. Robert Andino switched from shortstop to second, and Cesar Izturis entered as the shortstop.

"I didn't like the way he moved on the ball [hit by Andino in the eighth]," Showalter said. "Robby wanted to stay in there, but I didn't like what I was seeing. We'll see where he is [Tuesday]."

Matusz's injury allowed reliever Rick VandenHurk get extended action after not pitching since throwing one inning Sept. 2. He was summoned to start the top of the second -- and was nearly perfect. He retired 12 straight batters before Edwin Encarnacion led off the sixth with a homer to left, his 14th of the season.

"Probably the key to the game was the job that Vandy did tonight. It's pretty impressive," Showalter said. "It's a tribute to him and [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] and the work they do to keep him sharp in the 10 days since he's pitched in a game, I believe. That was impressive."

VandenHurk allowed one other hit in the sixth before getting an inning-ending double play. He retired one batter in the seventh before being pulled for Mark Hendrickson. Overall, VandenHurk allowed just two hits and one run in 5 1/3 innings. He didn't walk a batter and struck out three.

"You try to stay as sharp as you can in between time like that. I think we did," VandenHurk said. "I threw bullpens in between, and you get your workouts in and stuff like that. You try to stay as sharp as you can, and when you get the call, you just go out there and try to do the best you can."

Heading into Monday, VandenHurk had pitched just 61/3 innings total for the Orioles since his recall from Triple-A Norfolk on Aug. 16. He was acquired on July 31 in a trade with the Florida Marlins for lefty Will Ohman.

The Orioles took an early lead on Roberts' 13th leadoff homer of his career, on a 90 mph fastball from Toronto starter Marc Rzepczynski that landed in the left-field seats. It was his fourth homer this season.

Rzepczynski allowed one other run in his five innings, one that will be remembered more by the hitter than the pitcher. With two outs and Ty Wigginton on the third base in the second inning, rookie Brandon Snyder hit a dribbler down the third base line for an infield single.

It was the first big league hit and RBI for Snyder, the Orioles' first-round pick in 2005 who was making just his second start of his career. It wasn't a perfect inning for Snyder, however. Moments after his single, he was thrown out trying to steal second.

The Orioles added a third run in the seventh when Adam Jones was struck in the backside by a pitch from Shawn Camp with the bases loaded. Jones had left the bases loaded in the third when he popped up with two outs.

Toronto tied it in the eighth when Escobar hit a two-run single off reliever Jim Johnson.

The Orioles' bullpen didn't give up another run, getting a combined three scoreless innings from Koji Uehara, Michael Gonzalez, who struck out the side in the 10th, and David Hernandez (7-8). More important, it allowed them to finally beat the Jays.

"We were aware of it. We knew what was going on. But when you are in that situation, you can't think about it, you just have to take it game by game, no matter the circumstances, and play every inning," said Markakis, who had three of the team's 12 hits. "We did a great job pitching tonight, got some big hits in some key situations and we won the game."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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