An extended break between starts helped Baltimore’s Jason Hammel feel better, but he still couldn’t come up with a win.
Rajai Davis singled home the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the Toronto Blue Jays rallied for their ninth straight win, a 7-6 victory over the Orioles on Friday night.
Hammel hadn’t pitched since June 12 after being skipped in the rotation because of flu-like symptoms. He allowed four runs and four hits in six innings, walked one and struck out seven.
”Stuff wise, comparable to the best all year,” Hammel said. ”I felt great. You never want to say a stomach virus helped me but, overall, I felt awesome. Body, physically, mentally, everything, I felt pretty good today. It was a pretty good outing.”
Hammel is winless in four starts since beating Washington on May 27, but has worked at least six innings in his past three outings.
”He was strong, looked good,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ”Good velocity, he looked crisp. He just made a couple mistakes in some places that we shouldn’t have, to certain hitters.”
Slugger Chris Davis hit his ML-leading 27th home run, a three-run shot in the sixth, and the Orioles also got homers from J.J. Hardy and Ryan Flaherty, but it wasn’t enough against Toronto.
”They’re hot right now,” Davis said of the surging Blue Jays. ”They’ve been playing good baseball. This was a game we wanted to have to open up the series and maybe break their stride a little bit, but they battled all the way to the end and were able to come through.”
Munenori Kawasaki hit his first career home run, a game-tying shot in the seventh inning, while Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion also connected.
Kawasaki went 2 for 4 with three RBIs. Eight of his 17 RBIs this season have come against the Orioles: he also beat them with a two-run double in the ninth inning of a 6-5 win on May 26.
”The legend grows, the Kawasaki legend grows, and rightfully so,” Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey said.
Casey Janssen (2-0) worked one inning for the win as Toronto reached .500 for the first time since July 30, 2012. The Blue Jays have won 13 of 16 and are 26-15 since May 2, when they were a season-worst 10-21.
”We’ve definitely come back to life, that’s for sure,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
Facing Orioles reliever Brian Matusz (2-1), Maicer Izturis singled to begin the ninth and moved to second on Josh Thole’s sacrifice. Pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa was intentionally walked to bring up Kawasaki. With the crowd of 35,472 chanting his name, Kawasaki moved up both runners with a grounder.
”Unbelievable,” Kawasaki said of the ovation. ”I was nervous.”
Pedro Strop came on to face Davis, who lined a single over the head of shortstop J.J. Hardy. Davis’ teammates poured out of the dugout in celebration, mobbing him and tearing off his jersey.
Toronto took an early lead when Lind hit a two-run homer off Hammel in the first, his 10th. Hammel has allowed 10 runs in the first inning of his 15 starts this season, the most he’s allowed in any inning.
Hardy hit a two-out solo shot in the second, his 15th, to cut it to 2-1, but the Blue Jays got a run in the fifth on Kawasaki’s two-out RBI single.
Nate McLouth singled to open the sixth and Nick Markakis drew a one-out walk. McLouth scored on Adam Jones’ base hit and Davis followed with his third homer in the past two games.
Davis had two homers and five RBIs in Wednesday’s 13-3 win over Detroit.
Encarnacion answered with a leadoff drive in the bottom half, his 20th, cutting it to 5-4, but Flaherty’s leadoff drive in the seventh restored Baltimore’s two-run lead.
Tommy Hunter replaced Hammel to begin the seventh and gave up a leadoff single to Izturis. Two outs later, Kawasaki tied it at 6 by hitting a 1-1 pitch into the right field bullpen.
Called out of the dugout for a curtain call, Kawasaki bowed several times before tipping his cap.
All three Baltimore homers came off Dickey, who matched a season-worst by allowing three long balls.
Dickey allowed six runs and seven hits in six-plus innings. The right-hander, who walked two and struck out five, has a 6.02 ERA in eight home starts this season.
Showalter was ejected in the second for arguing with plate umpire Angel Hernandez. He was replaced by bench coach John Russell.
Davis struck out swinging to begin the inning, but the pitch got away from catcher Thole and Hernandez ruled it a foul ball as Thole threw to first base. Gibbons came out and the umpires huddled, then called Davis out.
That brought out Showalter for an animated discussion with Hernandez. After being tossed, Showalter pointed at all four umpires, then mimicked throwing them out of the game.
”I don’t know if the umpires considered the fact that two wrongs don’t make a right,” said Showalter, who was ejected for the first time this season.
NOTES: Baltimore 3B Manny Machado’s single in the first was his ML-leading 104th hit. … Blue Jays SS Jose Reyes (left ankle) went 1 for 4 and scored the game-winning run for Buffalo in the first Triple-A game of his rehab assignment. Reyes could be activated Monday. … Baltimore activated RHP Miguel Gonzalez off the paternity list and put OF Steve Pearce (left wrist) on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Thursday. Gonzalez will start against Toronto on Saturday. … Baltimore 2B Brian Roberts (right hamstring) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday.