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Rasmus homers again, Blue Jays edge Orioles

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- Colby Rasmus is hitting like he was never gone.

The Toronto Blue Jays center fielder returned Friday after being on the disabled list since Aug. 12 with a strained oblique.

On his return he has hit a home run in each of his first two games back, including a two-run blast in the seventh inning against Chris Tillman on Saturday that gave the Blue Jays a 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

"I didn't feel it would take long," Rasmus said. "I was able to do some things on the field hitting early and my mind set coming is was just pretend like I was never gone, just come back in and get back into my routine what I have been doing and go out there and just play."

Because the minor-league season is over, Rasmus never had a chance to play in some rehabilitation games. He had a single on Friday as well.

"I guess that's overrated who knows, it looks like it," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's a home run threat. ... He looks good. That doesn't always happen after that long when you don't get a whole lot of work in. You talk to him and he feels good. It shows you how powerful the mind is."

Rasmus hit a first-pitch changeup for his 20th home run of the season.

"I made a mistake and he put a good swing on it," said Tillman (16-6). "I've got to be better there. It's a big mistake. He's a good player, he's well-rounded.

"He hit a homer (Friday) night on a fastball in, tonight he hit one on a changeup. That goes to show you he's got a good game plan right now. He's swinging the bat well."

The Blue Jays became the first major league team this season to have five players with 20 home runs.

The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for the Blue Jays (68-80) and evened their three-game series with the Orioles (78-70), setting up the rubber match on Sunday.

Jeremy Jeffress (1-0) pitched one inning in relief of starter Esmil Rogers to earn the decision.

Manny Machado hit a home run and a double for the Orioles. Moises Sierra had two runs batted in for Toronto with a double.

Tillman allowed six hits, two walks and four runs while striking out four in eight innings for the first complete game of his career. He is trying to become the first Oriole pitcher to reach 17 wins since Mike Mussina won 18 in 1999.

"He was solid, just got a couple of changeups up," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's been a big pitch for him all year. Just elevated a couple and they made him pay for it."

The Orioles entered Saturday 2 1/2 games out of an American League wild-card spot so there is urgency to the games.

"The good news is, we've had urgency all year," Showalter said. "This isn't some different dial we have to go to. Our guys get it, they get it."

Rogers allowed five hits, two walks and three runs while striking out seven in six innings and did not figure in the decision.

Casey Janssen pitched the ninth for his 30th save.

Machado and Chris Davis doubled in the first to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.

The Blue Jays countered in their first with a double by Jose Reyes, a walk by Adam Lind and a two-run double by Sierra for a 2-1 lead.

Machado tied the game 2-2 with his 14th homer of the season with two out in the third.

The Orioles took a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy walked with one out and Matt Wieters grounded an RBI single up the middle.

Sierra led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk and Rasmus followed with a first-pitch homer to right that put the Blue Jays into the lead.

"It wasn't a terrible pitch," Wieters said. "It probably could have been maybe a little bit lower and he might have gotten a ground ball off of it. You've got to give credit to (Rasmus) because he kept it fair. It's a tough pitch to keep fair when you're a little bit out front. When he hit it, I thought it was going to hook foul for sure but it didn't."

NOTES: Attendance at Rogers Centre was 29,942. ... Lind hit his 20th home run in Friday's 5-3 loss to the Orioles, the fourth season in which he has hit at least 20 homers. He is the fourth Blue Jay to hit at least 20 home runs in four or more different seasons. ... The Orioles entered Saturday's game averaging 5.63 runs in their eight previous games this season at Rogers Centre compared with an average of 4.5 runs in their other 64 road games. ... Hardy singled in the eighth and has a seven-game hitting streak. ... LHP Mark Buehrle (11-8, 4.18 ERA) will start the series finale for Toronto against Baltimore RHP Miguel Gonzalez (9-7, 4.00).
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