Blue Jays split series with Orioles with win in finale
BALTIMORE — The Toronto Blue Jays were delighted to get out of Camden Yards with the same lead over the Baltimore Orioles as when they arrived.
J.A. Happ pitched effectively into the seventh inning and Dioner Navarro had three hits and two RBIs as Toronto won 5-2 Sunday to earn a split of the four-game series.
The victory enabled the AL East leaders to maintain their 4 1/2-game advantage over the Orioles, who were seeking to deal the Blue Jays their third straight series loss.
“It means a lot,” Navarro said.
“It’s a good series in general. We made some good plays, we got some clutch hitting,” Toronto slugger Jose Bautista said. “A series split on the road against the second-place team is something to not be too upset about.”
Edwin Encarnacion also had three hits for the Blue Jays, who had totalled 15 runs in losing six of their previous eight games. Led by Navarro, Toronto banged out 12 hits against Chris Tillman and two relievers.
Navarro had two doubles and a single.
“I know people to expect the runs to come from the big boys,” he said. “You cannot always depend on the big dogs. You can count on the little guys sometimes.”
Happ (6-3) gave up one run, seven hits and no walks in six-plus innings. He had lost two of his previous three starts, yielding 12 earned runs over 17 2-3 innings.
“Happ was outstanding, he really was,” manager John Gibbons said. “He gave us a chance to win out there.”
Casey Janssen got four outs for his 12th save.
Adam Jones homered and Nelson Cruz had three hits and his major league-leading 56th RBI for the Orioles, who went 5-5 on a homestand against Oakland, Boston and the Jays.
“We’ve played some really good teams,” Jones said. “The competitive level is rising and it’s fun to see.”
Tillman (5-4) allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings. The right-hander didn’t issue a walk or record a strikeout, only the sixth time in Orioles history that’s happened for a pitcher who went at least seven innings.
“It was a good series,” Tillman said. “We would have liked to have liked to come out on top, but we split against the team that’s leading the league. Just come back better next time.”
Tillman is 0-4 with a 2.78 ERA at home and 5-0 with a 6.33 ERA on the road.
“That’s how it goes in baseball,” Jones said. “He threw the ball well today. Unfortunately, we were unable to score him some runs. We had a couple opportunities, but he can only do what he can control.”
The Blue Jays went up 5-1 with a two-run eighth against Tommy Hunter. Navarro hit an RBI double and Steve Tolleson added a run-scoring groundout.
“A couple of runs late can be wonderful,” Gibbons said.
Jones hit his 11th homer of the season in the bottom half off Dustin McGowan, but Janssen made sure the Orioles wouldn’t score again.
“The goal is always to win series,” Happ said, “but to split is pretty good, too.”
Toronto got a first-inning run on an RBI double by Bautista, who one pitch earlier thought he had drawn a walk on a 3-1 offering that umpire Jerry Layne called a strike.
The Blue Jays wasted a leadoff double in the second inning but converted the same situation in the fourth. After Encarnacion doubled, Navarro blooped an RBI single to left field for a 2-0 lead.
In the Toronto fifth, Anthony Gose snapped a 5-for-38 skid with a leadoff single, advanced on a double by Jose Reyes and scored on a flyball by Melky Cabrera.
Baltimore closed to 3-1 in the sixth when Jones hit a two-out double and Cruz singled him home.