Blue Jays 6, Orioles 1

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BALTIMORE (AP)—About the only thing that went wrong for the Toronto Blue Jays during their trip to Baltimore was a rainout.

Deprived the opportunity of recording a three-game sweep, the Blue Jays settled for the next best thing.

Vernon Wells homered twice and drove in three runs, and Kelvim Escobar pitched six innings of four-hit ball as Toronto cruised to a 6-1 victory Thursday.

Josh Phelps also homered for the Blue Jays, who outscored the Orioles 12-3 in the rain-shortened two-game series. Toronto, which went 15-4 against Baltimore last year, has won 10 of the last 11 series against its AL East rivals.

Wells had four hits in the two games to lift his lifetime batting average at Camden Yards to .345, and Escobar improved his career record against the Orioles to a lofty 8-1.

“I just think that maybe it’s the ballpark,” Toronto manager Carlos Tosca said. “Whatever the reason, you’re always going to have players who do well against certain pitchers and certain teams. That’s just the nature of the game.”

And what about certain teams doing well against others? Toronto is 11-1 in its last 12 games against the Orioles and 27-6 since the middle of the 2001 season.

“They’re playing really well,” Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove said. “That’s a good young ballclub. They’ve got speed, power and good starting pitching. I think they’re going to give the Yankees and Red Sox a run for their money.”

Toronto has won eight of nine to move 10 games over .500 (41-31) for the first time since Sept. 23, 2000.

“It’s been this way for a while, now we just got to try to continue to keep it going,” Wells said. “We’re clicking on all cylinders, and if we can do that we have a chance to win every game. We just have to stick to our guns and continue to work.”

Wells hit a two-run homer in the first inning and a solo shot in the fifth, both off Rick Helling (4-5). It was his second multihomer game of the season and third of his career.

Escobar (5-3) allowed one run, struck out six and walked two to earn his 50th career victory. His eight wins and nine saves lifetime against the Orioles are his most against any opponent.

“That’s the way it is sometimes,” he said. “Baltimore is just a team I’ve always been able to pitch good against.”

Melvin Mora had two hits and drove in the Orioles’ lone run. Hargrove was ejected by umpire Larry Vanover in the sixth inning for arguing a call at second base.

On the positive side, he got to miss the final stages of Baltimore’s 10th loss in 14 games.

After Reed Johnson opened the game with a single, Wells hit a drive to dead center that traveled an estimated 427 feet. The shot extended his hitting streak to 11 games, two short of his career high.

A two-run single by former Oriole Greg Myers made it 4-0 in the third, and Baltimore got a run in the bottom half on a double by Brian Roberts and a single by Mora.

Wells led off the fifth with his 16th homer.

Helling allowed four earned runs and six hits in five innings. He also walked two and hit two batters.

“Good teams make you pay for your mistakes, and right now they’re one of the best in the league offensively,” Helling said. “I just haven’t been consistent this year, and that’s usually one of my strengths. I just haven’t been able to put together a good stretch.”

Pat Hentgen followed and pitched three innings, hitting two batters andyielding a leadoff homer to Phelps in the eighth.


Toronto has scored at least five runs in 16 of its last 17 games. …The Blue Jays have outhomered their opponents 40-25 on the road. … Thirty-one of the 53 runs allowed by Helling this season have come on home runs. … Phelps struck out twice and leads the AL with 67. … Former OrioleMike Bordick went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

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