BALTIMORE — When the Toronto Blue Jays broke out their two-week slump at the plate, nothing could stop them from circling the bases — except a gaffe by an overeager ball girl.
Jose Bautista launched a three-run homer and Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie added solo shots as the Blue Jays set season highs for runs and hits Sunday to beat the Baltimore Orioles 11-3 Sunday.
“We figured it was a matter of time and we knew it was going to happen,” manager John Gibbons said. “We know we have a good lineup.”
“It was a good all-around effort,” he said.
A ball girl at Camden Yards turned in an excellent effort, too. But too bad for her, it came on a ball that was still in play.
It was 1-all in the fourth when Adam Lind walked on four pitches and Edwin Encarnacion hit a hard grounder down the third base line. The ball girl near the left-field seats quickly ran to field it, making a neat pickup.
She took delight in her play until she realized sheepishly that she interfered with a live ball, which forced Lind to stop at third on the ground-rule double.
Dioner Navarro followed with a run-scoring groundout and Jonathan Diaz executed a perfect suicide squeeze on a pitch that came in at eye level.
Encarnacion, Lind and Rasmus each got three of the Blue Jays’ 17 hits, and six different players had RBIs. Toronto had scored four runs or fewer in 10 of its first 12 games.
Mark Buehrle (3-0) gave up one run on five hits, walked none and struck out two over seven innings. The left-hander has allowed only two runs in 21 innings, an 0.86 ERA.
“It means I’m getting really lucky and I’m fooling a lot of people,” Buehrle said. “I don’t know what’s going on.”
Chris Davis hit his first homer of the season for Baltimore, an eighth-inning drive off Esmil Rogers. Davis had a major league-leading 53 home runs last year.
Matt Wieters also connected for the Orioles, who scored only five runs in losing two of three to Toronto.
Ubaldo Jimenez (0-3) allowed five runs and 10 hits over 5 1-3 innings in his third straight ineffective start. Signed to a four-year contract as a free agent in February, the right-hander has yielded 23 hits in 16 innings and owns a 7.31 ERA.
“You want to win, you want to be there for your team,” Jimenez said. “But I know it’s part of the game. I can’t give up, I can’t put my head down and feel sorry for myself. I have to keep working hard and find a way to be there.”
Toronto pulled away with a five-run seventh, its biggest inning of the year. Lawrie hit a solo shot before Rasmus and Encarnacion hit two-run doubles off Josh Stinson.
Bautista connected in the eighth against Stinson to make it 11-1. Five of his nine hits this year are home runs.
In addition to hitting the ball hard, the Blue Jays played sound defence. Rasmus deftly chased down two flyballs in centre and Lawrie made a sensational stop and throw at third base to rob Jonathan Schoop of a hit in the fifth inning.
“(Buehrle) had some defence behind him,” Gibbons said. “He pitches to contact. They hit some balls deep but he kept them in the ballpark.”
Rasmus put Toronto up 1-0 in the first inning with his second home run in two games, a towering drive that became the 78th in the 23-year history of Camden Yards to land on Eutaw Street beyond the right field wall.
Baltimore pulled even in the bottom half when Nick Markakis singled and scored on a groundout by Adam Jones. But the Orioles wasted a leadoff double by Steve Pearce in the second, leaving them 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
“As an offence, we definitely want to score some more runs early in the game,” Davis said.
“When you go up there and put up a run early, you’ve got to continue to score runs. Tip your hat to Buehrle. He’s been around. He knows how to pitch. He used our aggressiveness against us today.”