Orioles 5, Blue Jays 4
“It’s good to be on that end of the pile. It’s a good feeling,” said Markakis, who also received a shaving cream pie to the face from reliever Jamie Walker after his single in the ninth inning Friday night gave Baltimore a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Orioles trailed 4-2 in the eighth before coming back against Toronto’s beleaguered bullpen, which is without injured closer B.J. Ryan.
Corey Patterson led off the ninth with a single off Victor Zambrano (0-1). After a sacrifice bunt by Paul Bako, Brian Roberts was intentionally walked. Mora then drew a walk to load the bases for Markakis, who grounded a single to right-center against the drawn-up infield.
Baltimore, which has had nine straight losing seasons, improved to 9-7 with its ninth win in 13 games. Seven of those victories have been come-from-behind wins.
“We’re a little better ball club than we were last year, there’s no question about it,” manager Sam Perlozzo said.
Toronto starter A.J. Burnett gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings. He left with a two-run lead, but the bullpen blew the advantage in a second straight game. On Thursday, the Blue Jays squandered a 3-1 lead in a 5-3 loss to Boston.
Shaun Marcum, the culprit in Thursday’s defeat, also struggled against the Orioles. He entered in the eighth and gave up a one-out single to Markakis, who took third on a double by Miguel Tejada. Casey Janssen then yielded a sacrifice fly to Huff before Millar tied it with a blooper to left.
“I’m still confident,” Marcum said. “My job is to go out there and throw strikes. I’ve just got to get back to doing that, keeping the ball down in the zone. That’s what gets you here.”
In the ninth inning, Zambrano allowed four of five batters to reach base.
“They weren’t throwing bad; we got beat by a jam shot,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said of his relievers. “The guys are busting their butts.”
Then, the frustrated manager added, “Go ahead, say, ‘Fire Gibbons. He’s the wrong guy for the job.’ I don’t (care).”
Said Burnett: “It’s something that these young guys are going to have to learn to deal with. They all deserve to be here or they wouldn’t be here.”
Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter until the seventh, when he issued free passes to Jason Smith and Frank Thomas around a single by Gregg Zaun.
That loaded the bases with two outs for Matt Stairs. Perlozzo summoned left-hander John Parrish from the bullpen and Gibbons countered by calling on Vernon Wells, who didn’t start because he was 1-for-19 lifetime against Cabrera.
Wells hit a sharp grounder off Mora’s glove at third base. The ball dribbled into short left field, allowing two runs to score.
The Blue Jays took advantage of poor fielding by Baltimore to go up 2-0 in the second inning. Stairs singled and stole second with two outs when no one covered the bag. Adam Lind followed with a bloop single, and he went to second base when left fielder Jay Gibbons threw home despite having virtually no chance to nail Stairs. Royce Clayton then hit an RBI double.
Burnett faced the minimum nine batters through the first three innings, allowing only a walk to Mora before Markakis hit into a double play.
Roberts led off the fourth with Baltimore’s first hit, a grounder that skidded under the glove of first baseman Lyle Overbay. Roberts then stole two bases before Mora homered on a 3-2 pitch.
The Orioles activated OF Jay Payton (hamstring) from the 15-day disabled list, but he did not start in part because he’s 2-for-13 lifetime against Burnett. … Burnett’s 7 IP was a season high. … The Orioles wore Virginia Tech wristbands Friday as a tribute to the 32 people killed by a gunman at the school earlier this week.
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