J.P. Arencibia broke open a tight game with a seventh-inning grand slam, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Baltimore 9-5 Monday night to earn a doubleheader split and drop the Orioles 1 1½ games out of first place in the AL East.
The Orioles lost a half-game in the standings Monday to the New York Yankees, who won 6-3 at Minnesota.
Baltimore fell behind 4-0 in the nightcap of a doubleheader and missed several bases-loaded chances to take the lead before Arencibia connected off Jake Arrieta.
Ricky Romero (9-14) pitched five innnings to win for the first time since June 22. Since then, the lefty has endured 13 losses and a pair of no-decisions.
"Good for him and good for us," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "We needed a win, and it's been a long time since Ricky's had a W."
Three months seemed like three years for Romero.
"I am glad it's out of the way and we can get ready for the next start," he said. "It wasn't so much the wins and losses, but the way I pitched all year — which hasn't been good. I've never backed down and I have taken the hits. When I sit back and think about all that has happened, I think I will be stronger for it."
Edwin Encarnacion cracked his 41st homer for Toronto while Moises Sierra added his sixth.
Arencibia, who came into the game mired in a 2-for-36 slump, finished with three hits and five RBIs.
Romero allowed four runs, eight hits, four walks and a homer on the night. But a strong performance by the Toronto bullpen enabled the left-hander to finally get back in the win column.
Encarnacion put the Blue Jays up 2-0 against Wei-Yin Chen (12-10) with a two-run drive in the first inning. In the second, Arencibia hit a sacrifice fly and Anthony Gose added an RBI single.
Robert Andino singled in two runs in the bottom half, but Baltimore left the bases loaded. Nate McLouth hit an opposite-field drive to left in the fifth to get Baltimore to 4-3, but the Orioles again left the bases full.
After Sierra homered for Toronto in the sixth, the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs in their half, bringing many in the crowd of 31,015 to their feet. Brad Lincoln replaced Romero and gave up a first-pitch RBI single to J.J. Hardy before striking out Jones. Chris Davis followed with a fly ball to Gose in left field, and Taylor Teagarden was thrown out at the plate after tagging up.
Baltimore also loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth, but scored only once on a double-play grounder.
Aaron Laffey (3-5) takes the mound for Toronto Tuesday night, while Joe Sanders (2-2) gets the call for the home side.
Adam Jones went 4-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs, while Ryan Flaherty hit a solo shot for the Orioles.
Jones' four hits tied a career high. He has hit safely in 18 of 22 games in September, with six home runs and 13 RBIs.
"Adam relishes competition," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's obviously had a heck of a year. He's turning into quite a player."
Asked if Jones deserves consideration for AL MVP, Showalter replied, "This team, we haven't really thought about that type of stuff yet. That will be fodder when our work's done here."
Now in his seventh season, Jones has already set a career high with 32 homers, and his two runs scored put him over 100 for the first time. After enjoying his fifth multi-RBI game this month, the All-Star centre fielder needs to drive in three more runs to eclipse his previous high of 83, set last year.
Orioles rookie Steve Johnson (4-0) allowed three hits over five shutout innings to lower his ERA to 1.62. Half his big league wins have come against Toronto.
Although the Jays got two runners on base in three of the first four innings, Johnson worked out of trouble on each occasion.
"When you do that, you have to make a pitch in there, just bear down, throw a few pitches, make sure they don't make good contact on it," he said.
Jim Johnson, the fifth Baltimore pitcher, worked the ninth for his 48th save in 51 opportunities.
"We can't run from what's taking place, and yet we have to continue to battle," Farrell said.
Henderson Alvarez (9-14) gave up four runs, eight hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. He's 2-7 in his last 10 starts.
Speaking through an interpreter, Alvarez addressed the two homers he yielded by saying, "Pitch to Jones was high changeup. He's a good hitter and he did what he was supposed to do with that pitch. The other kid, the second baseman, felt like it was a good pitch and he did a good job with it."
In the fourth, Chris Davis walked and Jones followed with a drive to left to put Baltimore up 2-0. Flaherty connected in the fifth, and Jones singled in the sixth and came home on a double-play grounder.
Toronto scored in the eighth on an RBI double by Rajai Davis. With runners on second and third and two outs, Darren O'Day came in to strike out Kelly Johnson.