Jose Bautista crushed his major league-leading 25th home run to help the Toronto Blue Jays salvage a 3-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on Saturday.
Bautista's two-run shot to left came off reliever Jason Berken with none out in the top of the eighth. Toronto newcomer Yunel Escobar, acquired earlier in the week, was on base with his second hit of the game.
"I was looking for a pitch to drive, a fastball," Bautista said. "I was lucky enough to get a second one. He threw it over the plate nice and low, where I like it."
The big blow helped turn a loss into the first road win in a Toronto uniform for Brandon Morrow. The right-hander coming into the night was 0-5 with a 6.80 ERA in nine previous starts away from home.
Morrow (6-6) struggled in a two-run fifth but was otherwise impressive, allowing just five hits. He struck out eight, walked two.
"It's great to start the second half with a win and a good performance," Morrow said.
Fred Lewis hit the first pitch of the game into the seats for Toronto (46-45). The Blue Jays have won the eight games against the Orioles this season by a combined score of 38-15.
The advantage in home runs for Toronto in the season series has been an astonishing 17-1.
The result was another dose of hard luck for Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie.
Winless in six with a 6.32 earned-run average in his previous eight starts, Guthrie rebounded from the first pitch mistake to befuddle the Jays for much of the next six innings.
Lewis led off the game with his sixth home run of the season, just over the outstretched glove of Felix Pie. Lewis also helped get Toronto off to a great start in the series opener, leading off with a double.
Morrow walked leadoff man Corey Patterson but picked him off later in the inning to get off to a good start.
Bautista and Adam Lind hit doubles in the second and third, respectively, but fellow Jays could not bring them across.
Aaron Hill made a nice barehanded play to get Patterson at first in the fourth, a key out since two batters later, Nick Markakis smacked a ground-rule double to centre. Markakis was stranded by Ty Wigginton, struck out by Morrow.
Morrow allowed a leadoff single to Craig Tatum in the third, but Escobar helped turn a double play for Toronto.
Adam Jones and Pie singled to begin the fifth and Morrow loaded the bases with a walk. After a strikeout, Morrow gave up a two-run single to Cesar Izturis to left-centre.
Morrow was able to record the final two outs of the inning with runners on base.
Guthrie, meanwhile, finished in a groove. The right-hander at one point fanned Bautista, Wells and Lind in order.
He departed having given up seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, with six strikeouts and one walk.
"You can't control it," Guthrie said. "You put a hot bullpen against a hot hitter in Bautista, in which a longball seems to happen for him if you make any slight mistake, those things happen."
Bautista had three strikeouts in his first eight at bats since returning from his all-star game appearance, but he found the sweet spot of the bat in the eighth for Toronto's 10th consecutive game with at least one home run.
"It was just right over the middle of the plate," Berken said. "He's obviously got some good power. The guy tends to hit the ball over the plate."
Blue Jays relievers Mark Rzepczynski and Jason Frasor each allowed a single to put runners at the corners in the bottom of the eighth.
Scott Downs came in and induced Markakis to ground to Escobar for an inning-ending double play.
Baltimore caught a break when a ground-rule double by Lewis in the top of the ninth forced Jose Molina to stop at third, as the catcher would have likely have scored an insurance run for Toronto.
Kevin Gregg couldn't close the deal for the Jays in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with walks. With two out, Shawn Camp came in to induce a force out to end the game.
After Toronto manager Cito Gaston pulled Gregg, there was an angry exchange in the dugout between the two.
"I spoke with him and I think we straightened things out," Gaston said. "He disagreed that I took him out, but that's my job. I'm the manager. He walked three guys and I thought he had enough."
Gregg said: "Of course I don't want to come out of the game. Being a closer, if you get yourself into trouble you're going to get yourself out of it. He saw things differently. I was just more surprised by the move than anything."
Toronto has won all five this year at Camden Yards after going 1-8 in the park in 2009.
Shawn Marcum (7-4) is scheduled to pitch Sunday for Toronto, with Baltimore countering with Brian Matusz (3-9).With files from The Associated Press