The Toronto Blue Jays have hit a rough patch offensively, leaving their pitchers precious little margin for error.
Mark Buehrle struggled early against the Baltimore Orioles, and the Blue Jays never recovered in a 4-2 loss Thursday night.
Buehrle (10-3) yielded four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings to lose his second straight start following a six-game winning streak. The left-hander allowed three runs or fewer in 12 of his previous 13 starts.
Toronto has lost three straight and five of six. The Blue Jays have scored only four runs in those four defeats.
"When we were winning, we'd give up two runs in the first inning and bounce right back, say, `Who cares? We're going to score,"' Buehrle said. "But right now that's not happening. We have to do a better job throwing up a zero in the first few innings to give us a chance to score a run and build some confidence."
Baltimore needed just two at-bats to take a 2-0 lead. Nick Markakis led off with a single and the seldom-used Delmon Young sent a changeup into the seats in left field, his first home run since April 8, and only the fourth against Buehrle this season.
It was the eighth straight game in which Toronto allowed the opposition to score first.
"It seems like we've gone out as starting pitchers have given up runs in the first inning," Buehrle noted. "When your offence is struggling to score runs ... it kind of seems it's taking the wind right out of our sails."
Kevin Gausman (2-1) allowed five hits, walked three and struck out three over six innings in his second consecutive solid outing. The 2012 first-round draft pick stymied Oakland on June 7, after being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk and now appears to be a fixture in the starting rotation.
"He's done what it takes to be considered," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's taking care of his end of it."
Gausman, 23, has given up only two runs in 13 innings during his latest stint with Baltimore.
"I feel good about what I've done. I feel comfortable right now," Gausman said. "Whatever happens is going to be for the club's best interest."
Zach Britton worked the ninth for his sixth save. The victory wasn't secured, however, until a replay review confirmed the final out on a double-play grounder.
After Young got Baltimore started in the first inning, Baltimore made it 3-0 in the third. Manny Machado led off with a double to end an 0-for-18 skid and Caleb Joseph delivered an RBI single.
Toronto got a run in the fifth when Juan Francisco doubled and came home on a single by Melky Cabrera. The double ended Baltimore's string of 23 innings without allowing an extra-base hit, and the run snapped the Orioles' streak of 19 consecutive scoreless innings.
That would be the only flaw in an otherwise solid performance by Gausman, who was 0-1 with a 6.14 ERA in his previous four appearances against Toronto.
"Gausman was good tonight," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "He's got that overpowering fastball. He was keeping it in the zone. I think in the past he's had some control issues, but it's all coming together for him."
Doubles by Jonathan Schoop and Markakis put Baltimore up 4-1 in the seventh, and Toronto got a run off Ryan Webb in the eighth when Jose Bautista doubled, stole third and scored on a groundout by Adam Lind.
Baltimore will send Ubaldo Jimenez (2-7) to the mound Friday night in the second game of the series. Jimenez is 0-5 with a 7.04 ERA in six home starts.
Drew Hutchison (4-4) will start for Toronto.