Valencia helps Orioles keep pace in playoff hunt

The SportsXchange

By Dhiren Mahiban

TORONTO -- Baltimore's Danny Valencia only had two hits in the Orioles' three game series with the Blue Jays, but he made them count.

Valencia's second hit of the series came in the third inning Sunday as he doubled to left scoring a pair helping the Orioles to a 3-1 win over the Jays.

"He's had some big hits. Danny's really engaged in the competition. He's not trying to create a mark for himself for next year," said Orioles manager, Buck Showalter. "Danny's engaged in the winning and he wants to be a part of something here."

Toronto (68-81) got out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to an Adam Lind solo home run in the second.

Baltimore (79-70) countered in the third. Nick Markakis led off with a single. Then two batters later, Adam Jones was walked by Jays' starter Mark Buehrle.

"I tried to see as many pitches as I can my first at-bat and I knew he was going to try to get me to roll over," Valencia said of the at-bat. "He threw a change-up and he left it up, fortunately for me, I was able to hit over the third baseman's head."

The Orioles, who entered Sunday 3 1/2 games back of the American League wild card spot, took two of three from the Blue Jays (68-81), winning their first road series since Aug. 9-11 in San Francisco.

Baltimore added to its lead in the fourth. After Mike Morse reached on an error by Jose Reyes, Buehrle walked Chris Davis with the bases loaded, scoring Morse from third.

Blue Jays second baseman Ryan Goins managed to prevent the floodgates from opening with a diving grab on a Jones' grounder up the middle to end the inning.

Toronto threatened in the seventh. After Brett Lawrie reached with a two-out single, Edwin Encarnacion doubled into the right-field corner. Baltimore reliever Francisco Rodriguez then walked Lind to load the bases for Moises Sierra, who struck out to end the inning.

Orioles closer Jim Johnson picked up his 45th save in the win.

Buehrle (11-9) went five innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs while striking out four and walking three. Buehrle is 5 2/3 innings shy of his 13th straight season of at least 30 starts, 200 innings pitched and double-digit victories.

"It was a battle pretty much all day," he said. "Got guys on base and putting the ball in play and walking guys. Obviously with five innings I wasn't very pleased with myself.

"I got out of some big jams and kind of gave us a chance there for a bit. It seems like Gonzalez gives us trouble every time he faces us so I have to do a better job of putting up zeroes," Buehrle said.

Oriole's starter Miguel Gonzalez left the game in the fifth inning with a right groin strain. Gonzalez (10-7) went 5 2/3 innings pitched and allowed an earned run while striking out two.

"I was feeling pretty good, but it tightened up a little bit so I was just like 'you know what? I just better get out now' and get ready for the next one," said Gonzalez of the injury. "It's the first time I've ever felt it so hopefully we can treat it and get better."

Notes: Baltimore entered Sunday's game searching for its first road series win against an A.L. East opponent since taking two of three from the Boston Red Sox April 8-11. ... Oriole's third baseman Manny Machado picked up his league-leading 50th double Saturday. It's the second-most in MLB history by a player 20 years old or younger. ... Blue Jays CF Colby Rasmus, who had home runs in each of his first two games since returning from the disabled list, was given the day off Sunday to rest overall soreness. ... Orioles 1B Davis had a 12-game hitting streak against the Blue Jays snapped.

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