Romero, Blue Jays shuts down Orioles

Even 12 strikeouts over eight innings weren’t enough to satisfy Ricky Romero.

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Ricky Romero pitches to the Baltimore Orioles during first inning AL action in Toronto on Wednesday.

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Ricky Romero pitches to the Baltimore Orioles during first inning AL action in Toronto on Wednesday.

Blue Jays 4 Orioles 1

TORONTO — Even 12 strikeouts over eight innings weren’t enough to satisfy Ricky Romero.

“I’d rather have the complete game in that situation and I strike out two guys,” said the Blue Jays starter after Toronto defeated the Baltimore Orioles 4-1 on Wednesday.

Yunel Escobar, Juan Rivera and Adam Lind hit home runs for the Blue Jays (34-34) who have won the first two games of the three-game series against the Orioles (30-35). Toronto has won 16 home games in a row against Baltimore.

Romero (6-6) was charged with one run and walked four, two of them to open the ninth when Frank Francisco replaced him and picked up his sixth save despite giving up a run-scoring single. It is the third time in his career that Romero has had 12 strikeouts.

“I wish I had finished it but Frankie came in and did a good job,” Romero said. “I don’t know about losing focus. I think it was just adrenalin and you’re trying to get outs. I didn’t let it come easy as it was in the first eight innings and started pressing a little bit, I don’t know why.

“We had a long game (11 innings Tuesday) and used our bullpen. I take a lot of pride of going deep in games and trying to limit the innings on our bullpen.”

Romero has pitched well this season with an earned-run average of 3.01 after Wednesday’s outing, but he has not always received the run support.

Orioles starter Jake Arrieta (8-4) allowed nine hits, two of them home runs, and three runs in 6 2/3 innings. One of his runs scored on Lind’s two-run homer, his 13th of the season, against left-hander Clay Rapada.

That was all that was needed for Romero who felt good in the bullpen warming up and took that into the game.

“I felt good, felt good in the bullpen,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve had a good feel for my back door cutter and we threw it all night. It kind of gave a different look.”

It’s something he’s been working on.

“Today was more back-dooring to righties,” said Romero. “It was just something different. Guys are going to adjust to me and I’ve got to adjust to the league too.

“I’ve had it all year but haven’t really used it. Now it’s starting to become more of a weapon. It was just a different look. We talked about it before the game. We saw something on video where we can set some guys and went ahead and did it.

“It was one of those nights where I felt I had a good curveball going, a good change-up going and I could locate my fastball wherever I wanted. It’s one of those nights you want to take advantage of.”

The Blue Jays had three hits in the first inning but the only one that produced a run was Escobar’s lead-off homer. It was his eighth homer of the season and the fourth leadoff homer of his career.

Romero retired his first nine batters but his spell was snapped by J.J. Hardy’s lead-off double in the fourth.

Rivera hit his fifth homer of the season with one out in the sixth to bump Toronto’s lead to 2-0. The Jays had some more going on in the inning after Aaron Hill doubled with two out and Rajai Davis added an infield single, but Jayson Nix flied out to left to end the inning.

Vladimir Guerrero led off the seventh with a single, but Romero retired the next three batters, two on strikeouts to give him 10 for the game. A two-out walk to Jose Bautista, who reached base for the 20th consecutive game, meant the end of the game for Arrieta and Rapada came in to give up Lind’s homer on a 1-2 pitch.

Romero walked Nick Markakis and Adam Jones to lead off the ninth and Francisco replaced him. He gave up a run on a one-out single by Matt Wieters, but Derek Lee grounded into a double play to end the game.