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Jays win ninth straight game

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- Rajai Davis hit the winning single with two out in the ninth inning as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles 7-6 on Friday to extend their winning streak to a season-best nine games.

But like everybody else in the clubhouse, Davis paid tribute to shortstop Munenori Kawasaki, who put the Blue Jays in a position to win.

Kawasaki drove in three runs, two with his first major-league homer in the seventh inning to tie the score 6-6, and had the crowd of 35,472 cheering him into a curtain call. He came out of the dugout and bowed twice.

"Dreaming," Kawasaki said. "I didn't expect to hit a home run. It was like a dream. I was dreaming."

Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion also homered for the Blue Jays (36-36), who reached .500 for the first time this season.

"He had some big hits. My hit doesn't even happen if he doesn't get those big hits," said Davis, who entered the game as a pinch-runner in the seventh and stayed in to play left field where he made a nice running catch to end the eighth.

Kawasaki was called up from Triple-A Buffalo to fill in after Jose Reyes suffered a severely sprained ankle on April 12. Reyes is set to rejoin the team early next week.

Manager John Gibbons appreciates the energy and the sound fundamental game that Kawasaki plays and believes the return of Reyes does not necessarily mean the departure of Kawasaki.

"I've never said he is necessarily going to go back down," Gibbons said.

His teammates like having Kawasaki around.

"He's unbelievable," said Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen (2-0), who pitched the ninth to pick up the win. "Every day he arrives here happy to be here that day. He just grinds every at-bat, a pretty special sight to see. The fans gave him what he deserved. It was pretty awesome."

Kawasaki also singled in a run in the fifth against Orioles starter Jason Hammel and homered in the seventh against reliever Tommy Hunter.

"He got it," Hunter said. "Tip your cap. I'm going to throw it again tomorrow."

"I would say it's no surprise, but that home run is a surprise," said Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey, who allowed seven hits and six runs in six-plus innings. "The Kawasaki legend grows and rightfully so."

Dickey allowed three home runs, including one to Chris Davis in the sixth that scored three runs and put the Orioles into the lead.

Maicer Izturis led off the ninth with a single against left-hander Brian Matusz (2-1).

Josh Thole sacrificed him to second. Pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa was walked intentionally. Kawasaki, whose homer tied the score in the seventh, grounded out to second as the runners moved up. Right-hander Pedro Strop replaced Matusz to face Davis, who lined a single to left.

During Kawasaki's at-bat in the ninth, the crowd chanted his name.

"My legs were shaking," he said. "I was nervous."

The Orioles (42-32) also had homers by J.J. Hardy and Ryan Flaherty against Dickey but they were not enough to subdue the Blue Jays.

"They are hot right now," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who was ejected in the second inning. "They have been playing good baseball and this was a game that

"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."

The Blue Jays took a 2-0 lead in the first on Lind's 10th homer of the season after Encarnacion doubled. It was the 11th game in a row in which Lind has had at least one hit against the Orioles.

"Lind put a good swing on the ball in the first inning. That wasn't a bad pitch, so I have to tip my cap to him," Hammel said. "He hit a good pitch."

Hardy cut the lead to one with his 15th homer of the season in the second. Kawasaki's single made it 3-1 in the fifth.

Dickey did not retire a batter in the seventh, allowing Flaherty's third homer of the season to give Baltimore a 6-4 lead and walking Danny Valencia before left-hander Brett Cecil took over. Dickey allowed seven hits and six runs.

Hammel, who allowed six hits and four runs in six innings, was deprived of his first win since May 27 when Hunter gave up a single to Izturis and Kawasaki's homer to right.

The Blue Jays led 3-1 until the Orioles scored four runs in the sixth, three on the 27th homer of the season by Davis.

Nate McLouth led off with a single and Nick Markakis walked with one out. A single by Adam Jones scored a run and Davis hit the next pitch over the left-field fence.

Encarnacion hit his 20th homer of the season with one out in the bottom of the sixth to cut the lead to 5-4.

NOTES: Showalter was ejected in the second inning by home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez after a dropped third strike to Davis was first ruled a foul ball and then changed to a strikeout after an umpire conference. ... Orioles 2B Brian Roberts (hamstring surgery) will begin a minor-league rehabilitation assignment on Tuesday with Triple-A Norfolk. ... Blue Jays SS Jose Reyes (sprained ankle) will play the three weekend games with Triple-A Buffalo and could rejoin Toronto early next week. ... Lind has reached base in 18 of his past 19 games against Baltimore. ... RHP Chien-Ming Wang (1-0, 3.14 ERA) will make his third start as a Blue Jay in Saturday's second game of the series against Orioles RHP Miguel Gonzalez (5-2, 3,75 ERA).
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