TORONTO (AP)—In the past three months, the Baltimore Orioles have found no comfort in being close.
The last-place Orioles have lost 19 of 22 games and dropped their past nine series overall. Baltimore has gone 2-17 in one-run games since June 18 after starting the year 18-10 in such contests.
“It’s a matter of getting that hit at the right time,” first baseman Kevin Millar said. “We haven’t done that lately. Early on, things were going our way and right now it’s been tough to get that big hit.”
Besides the hitters’ failings, left-hander Garret Olson said Baltimore’s young pitchers have struggled to get key outs in close games.
“It all comes down to those big pitches,” Olson (9-9) said. “I think we’re all capable of doing it but sometimes we just don’t get it done. Bottom line, if you make your pitch, more times than not you’re going to get out of that situation.”
Right-hander Jesse Litsch (12-8) worked six innings to win for the third time in four starts, allowing two runs and four hits. He walked four and struck out six.
Litsch is 4-1 with a 1.91 ERA in seven starts since being recalled from Triple-A on Aug. 14.
“Ever since he’s come back up he’s thrown the ball a lot better, he’s used both sides of the plate,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. “It seems he’s just getting better all the time.”
Ryan struck out Millar, but loaded the bases when Luke Scott singled, Oscar Salazar walked and Jay Payton reached on catcher’s interference. Pinch-hitter Melvin Mora popped out and Brian Roberts ended it with a grounder to short.
“Give Ryan credit, he made some good pitches and got out of it,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.
Bautista hit his third homer since joining Toronto in a trade from Pittsburgh last month, a solo shot to left in the first. Baltimore went ahead in the fifth when Litsch walked the bases load and Alex Cintron hit a two-run single.
Toronto put runners at second and third with one out in the bottom half, but came up empty when Bautista popped out and Alex Rios grounded out.
The Blue Jays reclaimed the lead in the sixth. Adam Lind reached on a fielder’s choice and Lyle Overbay hit a two-out single, chasing Olson. Right-hander Jim Miller came on to face Zaun and threw his first pitch to the backstop for a wild pitch, advancing both runners.
“(Catcher Omir Santos) wanted an outside fastball and I just pulled it way across back inside,” Miller said of his costly wild pitch.
“I kind of knew he was out when he stepped on second,” Gaston said with a laugh. “But he came up with a big hit for us so what can you say but thanks and congratulations.”
Olson lost for the third time in four starts, giving up three runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings. The left-hander was coming off the shortest outing of his career, allowing six runs in 2-3 of an inning in a 12-6 loss to Minnesota last Sunday.
“I thought he was feeling for it early in the game but he settled down, he made some good pitches,” Trembley said. “Obviously it was a big improvement from the last time he pitched.”
Blue Jays RHP Shaun Marcum won’t pitch again this season after undergoing an MRI on Thursday. The results have been sent to Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion and an update on Marcum’s condition is expected Friday. … An MRI on Toronto C Rod Barajas revealed a slight tear in his hamstring. He is day-to-day. … Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said he would “think about adding some years” to RHP A.J. Burnett’s contract. Burnett, who can opt out of the final two years of his deal after the season, has won a career-high 18 games. … Baltimore RHP Daniel Cabrera (strained elbow) won’t pitch again this year. Cabrera underwent his second MRI in a month Thursday, revealing no damage. … Bautista hit 12 homers for the Pirates. … The outfield assist for Markakis was his AL-leading 16th.