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Blue Jays 3, Orioles 2

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BALTIMORE (AP)

In a matchup between a strong-armed reliever and the major league home run leader, the guy with the bat prevailed.

Jose Bautista hit his 25th homer in the eighth inning, a two-run shot off Jason Berken that provided the Toronto Blue Jays with a 3-2 comeback victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night.

Kevin Gregg walked the bases loaded with two outs in the Baltimore ninth, but Shawn Camp retired Cesar Izturis on a fielder's choice to earn his first save.

Toronto trailed 2-1 when newcomer Yunel Escobar led off the eighth with a single off Berken (2-2), who came in with a 1.95 ERA and had limited the opposition to a .235 batting average. Bautista then launched a 1-0 pitch into the Toronto bullpen in left-center, his fifth homer in 10 games and third against the Orioles this year.

''I was looking for a pitch to drive, a fastball. I was lucky enough to get a second one,'' Bautista said. ''He threw it over the plate nice and low where I like it.''

If Berken could do it over, he'd put the pitch anywhere but where it went.

''It was just right over the middle of the plate. He's obviously got some good power,'' Berken said. ''The guy tends to hit the ball over the plate.''

It was an uncharacteristic performance for Berken, who had allowed only three homers in his previous 50 2-3 innings.

''He has been used in that situation all year and he has been getting it done for us,'' Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel said. ''Unfortunately, tonight it didn't go his way.''

The homer put the Blue Jays ahead, but holding the lead wasn't easy.

Three Toronto relievers worked the eighth, including Scott Downs, who got Nick Markakis to hit into an inning-ending double play with runners at first and third.

Then came the harrowing ninth. After Toronto manager Cito Gaston pulled Gregg, there was an angry exchange in the dugout between the two.

''I spoke with him and I think we straightened things out. He disagreed that I took him out, but that's my job. I'm the manager,'' Gaston said. ''He walked three guys and I thought he had enough.''

Gregg said: ''Of course I don't want to come out of the game. Being a closer, if you get yourself into trouble you're going to get yourself out of it. He saw things differently. I was just more surprised by the move than anything.''

Fred Lewis homered on the first pitch of the game for the Blue Jays, who improved to 8-0 against the Orioles this season. Toronto leads the majors with 139 homers and has hit at least one in 10 straight games.

Brandon Morrow (6-6) allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings to earn his first road win in 10 starts. The right-hander is 5-1 at home and 1-5 away from Rogers Centre.

''It's great to start the second half with a win and a good performance,'' he said.

Izturis had two RBIs for the Orioles, now 2-47 when scoring fewer than four runs.

Toronto's comeback ruined Jeremy Guthrie's bid for his first win in nine starts since May 25. Guthrie allowed one run and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings, but he was betrayed by the bullpen.

''You can't control it,'' Guthrie said. ''You put a hot bullpen against a hot hitter in Bautista, in which a longball seems to happen for him if you make any slight mistake, those things happen.''

Guthrie knows a thing or two about giving up home runs - he's yielded 16, including nine in his last nine starts.

Many in the announced crowd of 28,518 had not yet settled into their seats when Lewis sent Guthrie's initial pitch over the center-field wall. It was his fourth leadoff homer of the year and fifth of his career.

Izturis' two-run single put Baltimore up 2-1 in the fifth, but Morrow avoided further damage by getting the final two outs with runners at the corners.

NOTES: The Blue Jays activated RHP Shawn Marcum (elbow) off the 15-day DL after the game and designated INF Nick Green for assignment. Marcum will start the series finale Sunday. ... Toronto will be seeking its third three-game sweep of Baltimore this season. ... The Orioles fell to 14-13 in one-run games; the Blue Jays improved to 12-18.

Tagged: Orioles, Blue Jays, Cesar Izturis, Jeremy Guthrie, Kevin Gregg, Jose Bautista, Jason Berken

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