TORONTO - Seemingly headed to a win to avoid being swept in three straight by Toronto, the Orioles bullpen allowed a pair of two-run homers in the eighth today and a potential win turned into yet another loss. A 4-1 lead was lost and so was another game.
Center fielder Randal Grichuk hit a two-run homer off Brad Brach in the eighth. That pulled Toronto within 4-3. Later in the inning Yangervis Solarte blasted a 97 mph Tanner Scott fastball out to left. He hit a 3-1 pitch for his own two-run shot to produce a 5-4 lead and win today in front of 39,021 at Rogers Centre.
Brach entered leading by three runs in the eighth and allowed a single and got a forceout before Grichuk hit his 13th homer to cut the deficit to one. After an infield single and groundout, manager Buck Showalter called for Scott to face Solarte, who drove a pitch out to left to put Toronto in the lead. Three outs later, they had a series sweep of the Orioles.
The Orioles are 28-72 at the 100-game mark. They are 0-7 this year at Rogers Centre and were swept for the 11th time this season in a series of three or more games.
Much earlier, Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner returned from the disabled list and provided a lift to a slumping Baltimore rotation. But the bullpen gave up his win.
Cashner was pitching on 11 days’ rest after going on the DL July 11 with a neck strain for which he got an injection. But he took the mound today and didn’t miss a beat. He allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings. While Cashner came up an out short of a quality start, the O’s rotation had posted a 6.71 ERA with just one quality start the last 13 games.
Toronto lefty J.A. Happ, the subject of trade rumors, gave up just one run today but only got through five innings due to a high pitch count. Happ, who entered today 10th in the American League with 10 strikeouts for every nine innings, fanned nine Orioles.
He fanned five in the first two innings on 37 pitches with 11 swings and misses. He had eight strikeouts through four innings until the Orioles scored one off him in the fifth to forge a 1-1 tie.
Happ went five innings allowing the one run on four hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. He has allowed just two earned runs in 18 innings this season against the Orioles. But he didn’t get a decision.
And right after he left the game, Baltimore broke the 1-1 tie against right-hander Joe Biagini. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop, batting .348 this month, blasted a Biagini cutter out to left for his 12th homer. The ball was hit 108.7 mph for Schoop’s 101st career homer and second of this series. Toronto had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth on Solarte’s double.
Lefty Paul Fry did another solid job out of the Baltimore bullpen. He came on with runners on first and third and two outs in the sixth for Casher. He got Solarte on a weak ground ball on the first pitch to hold the lead at 2-1. Fry got the first out of the seventh to lower his ERA to 1.69 before Mychal Givens came on. The pair kept the Orioles in the lead. That is, until the last of the eighth.
The Orioles, now 16-33 at home and 12-39 on the road, return to Oriole Park on Monday to face first-place Boston. It is the start of a three-game series and seven-game homestand that takes the club within two days of the non-waiver trade deadline.