TORONTO — Toronto manager John Gibbons didn’t wait for the first question at his post-game availability before offering his thoughts on the Blue Jays coming up just short in a slugfest at Rogers Centre.
“It’s very rare when you get 16 hits and no errors and you don’t win the game, put it that way,” he said.
Nelson Cruz hit a grand slam and a solo homer as Baltimore pounded four home runs to outscore Toronto 10-8 on Wednesday night. The Blue Jays had three homers of their own and outhit the Orioles 16-12 but couldn’t catch up after blowing an early five-run lead.
Toronto loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning but Jonathan Diaz hit into a game-ending double play.
“(Jonathan) hit the ball hard, it just so happens it was right at somebody,” said second baseman Ryan Goins. “We’ll come back tomorrow and go back to grinding.”
Chris Davis and Matt Wieters had the other homers for the Orioles. Canadian Brett Lawrie, Jose Reyes and Goins went deep for Toronto (11-10).
“You have so much respect for that offence over there,” Gibbons said of the Orioles. “They keep coming at you. You never really feel good but some key outs along the way can make a difference and their guys got them.”
The Blue Jays, who left 11 men on base, had their chances late in the game.
Josh Thole drove in a run in the seventh inning to cut Baltimore’s lead to two runs. With two runners on, Reyes nearly cut the deficit further when he sliced a ball into left field but it bounced a few inches outside the foul line to take away a ground-rule double.
Darren O’Day then struck Reyes out to keep Baltimore’s lead intact. Jose Bautista singled in the eighth inning but Edwin Encarnacion hit into an inning-ending double play.
Baltimore reliever Tommy Hunter gave up three straight singles in the ninth before earning his sixth save as the Orioles (10-10) returned to the .500 mark.
“It wasn’t pretty but we got it done,” Cruz said.
Davis opened the scoring in the first inning with a solo homer to deep centre field off Toronto starter Dustin McGowan. The ball landed in the first row of standing-room only seats above the first deck.
In the second inning, Toronto sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six runs.
Lawrie, from Langley, B.C., turned on the first pitch he saw from Baltimore starter Chris Tillman (3-1) for his second three-run shot in as many games. Goins walked and Reyes followed with his first home run of the year.
An inning later, Cruz — who has driven in at least a run in each of his last six games — launched a rainbow solo homer to the second deck in left field.
McGowan was pulled in the fifth inning after loading the bases on a walk, infield single and hit batsman.
“You’ve got to throw strikes and that leadoff walk killed me,” he said. “After that, I just kind of lost rhythm.”
Reliever Todd Redmond (0-2) came on and got Nick Markakis to pop up before the Orioles went to work on a six-run inning that gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Cruz cleared the bases by launching a 2-1 pitch to deep left for his sixth homer of the season. Redmond gave up two more singles, a double and a sacrifice fly before J.A. Happ came on to record the final out.
Goins cut into the lead in the sixth inning with his first homer but Wieters tacked on another run in the seventh with a solo shot, his fourth homer of the year.
McGowan gave up five hits, six earned runs, and one walk while striking out five batters. The veteran right-hander said he has been feeling a little more fatigued than usual as he adjusts to life as a starter again.