BALTIMORE — The power-laden Baltimore Orioles simply couldn’t muster enough offence to outdo Toronto slugger Kendrys Morales.
Baltimore’s seven-game winning streak ended under a barrage of home runs by Morales, who went deep three times and had a career-high seven RBIs to provide the Blue Jays with an 11-8 victory Thursday night.
Looking to sustain its charge into the thick of the AL playoff picture, Baltimore bolted to a 5-2 lead in the third inning before the last-place Blue Jays stormed back behind Morales, who had four hits and scored four runs.
“When you score eight runs, you’ve got to win the ballgame,” lamented Orioles starter Jeremy Hellickson, who gave up seven runs, seven hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings.
Morales hit a two-run homer in the third, an RBI single in a five-run fifth, added a three-run drive in the sixth and concluded his big night with a solo shot in the eighth.
“Obviously, that’s what we need after falling behind,” manager John Gibbons said.
It was his second career three-homer game. The first was Sept. 20, 2015, at Detroit.
“It’s difficult to do, so you have to feel good about it,” Morales said through an interpreter. “Plus, we got a win on top of that. So it feels great.”
Adam Jones and Chris Davis homered for the Orioles, who fell 2 1/2 games behind Minnesota in the race for the final AL wild card. Coming off three-game sweeps of Boston and Seattle, Baltimore was seeking its first eight-game winning streak in 12 years.
Instead, the Orioles were victimized by a Toronto team that had lost 10 of 12, including four in a row, and had totalled one run in its previous two games.
“We did a lot of good things tonight. We just didn’t pitch well enough to win the game, obviously,” manager Buck Showalter said. “But I’m real proud of the month our guys put together to get back in this.”
Baltimore went 17-12 in August, its first winning month since April. The Orioles hit 57 home runs in the month — a major league record for August, breaking the mark of 55 set by last year’s club.
Marco Estrada (7-8) improved to 6-1 lifetime against Baltimore despite allowing six runs and 10 hits in five ragged innings.
Roberto Osuna retired Jones on a groundout with two runs in, two on and two outs in the eighth. The right-hander also worked the ninth for his 35th save.
Jones hit his 26th home run in the first inning with a man on, and Tim Beckham hit an RBI single in the second for a 3-0 lead.
Morales answered in the third, but Baltimore got a run-scoring groundout from Davis and an RBI single by Mark Trumbo in the bottom half.
The momentum turned in the fifth, when Toronto sent nine batters and used two-run doubles by Miguel Montero and Kevin Pillar to go up 7-5.
Davis hit a solo shot in the bottom half, but Morales expanded the margin to five runs by connecting off Mychal Givens in the sixth and again in the eighth.
“It wasn’t necessarily a pretty thing,” Gibbons said, “but it was a win.”
Gibbons said Toronto plans to activate C Luke Maile from the 10-day disabled list and add OFs Teoscar Hernandez and Michael Saunders and RHP Carlos Ramirez from Triple-A Syracuse and IF Richard Urena from Double-A New Hampshire when rosters expand Friday.
Blue Jays: 1B Justin Smoak (sore right calf) was out of the lineup for the second consecutive night. Gibbons was hopeful Smoak would return Friday. Smoak, who is hitting .287 with team highs in home runs (36) and RBIs (84), missed only one of Toronto’s 132 games prior to Wednesday.
Orioles: The team has delayed making a decision about when to activate SS J.J. Hardy (wrist) from the disabled list, though it probably won’t be later than Monday.
Blue Jays: RHP Joe Biagini (3-9, 5.40 ERA) starts the second game of the series Friday night. Biagini is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in five appearances (one start) against Baltimore this season.
Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (10-9, 4.98 ERA) makes his fifth start against Toronto this season. Baltimore won each of his previous four starts.