BALTIMORE (AP) For J.P. Arencibia, Toronto’s convincing win over a divisional foe meant significantly more than his first career grand slam.
Arencibia cleared the bases with his ninth homer of the season, Rajai Davis had three hits and the Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-4 on Friday night to end a two-game losing streak.
“It’s one of those things you don’t really think about,” Arencibia said. “I don’t remember the last time I hit a grand slam in baseball. It was just one of those things. If I say I was trying to hit a grand slam, I’d be a liar. I just hit the ball and it was able to go out and we had three guys on base. The biggest thing, I think, was it gave our pitcher a cushion and he can pitch with that lead.”
The slam was more than enough for Carlos Villanueva (3-0), who allowed two runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings, walking one. He is 2-0 in three starts since moving into the Toronto rotation from the bullpen.
“It’s very fine because we got the win, but still I’m a little upset that I haven’t been able to go deeper in games. … I didn’t want to come out, but I understand, and we had a very comfortable lead at that point,” Villanueva said.
Arencibia’s fifth-inning slam gave the Blue Jays a 7-0 lead against Orioles rookie Zach Britton, who has lost three straight decisions after starting the season 5-1.
“You’re never scared of losing, but obviously we had lost two straight and you want to stay close in this division,” Arencibia said.
Even though Arencibia is batting only .255, the rookie catcher has 30 RBIs, among the most by a first-year player in the AL. Nineteen of his 41 hits have gone for extra bases.
“He’s been extremely productive against left-handers and that was the case again tonight,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of Arencibia. “He’s done an excellent job at the plate and behind the plate, and tonight he had a very good game all-around.”
Toronto has won 21 of 27 games against the Orioles and is 16-3 in its last 19.
J.J. Hardy homered for Baltimore, which has dropped six of seven games to fall five games below .500, matching a season high.
Britton (5-4) allowed seven runs – five earned – and six hits over five innings, his shortest outing.
“I don’t think I did a good job out there,” Britton said. “Falling behind too many hitters. Watch on video and the hits I gave up were all balls out over the plate (and) up. That’s what a good-hitting team does – they hit those pitches. … The last two outings I haven’t executed well and those are the results.”
Five of Toronto’s runs came with two outs, a trend Orioles manager Buck Showalter wants to see corrected.
“It’s something they’re aware of and we’re aware of,” Showalter said. “It’s not that they’re backing off with two outs. It’s just that we can’t seem to make that putaway pitch, a lot of those with two strikes. We haven’t done a good job of using those counts to our favor.”
Two miscues by the Orioles helped Toronto to a 2-0 lead in the second. After Juan Rivera’s leadoff single, Arencibia reached on an error by third baseman Mark Reynolds. Aaron Hill singled in a run and Edwin Encarnacion grounded into a double play before Britton’s wild pitch plated Arencibia.
In the third, Yunel Escobar led off with a double, went to third on Corey Patterson’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Rivera’s sacrifice fly.
Arencibia’s slam broke the game open in the fifth. The Blue Jays loaded the bases on a walk to Escobar, a single by Jose Bautista and a walk to Rivera before Arencibia ripped Britton’s 2-2 fastball into the seats in left.
Villanueva didn’t allow a hit until Hardy led off the fifth with a single to center, the first of four Baltimore hits in the inning. Hardy later scored on Robert Andino’s two-out liner to left and a single by Adam Jones to make it 7-2.
Escobar’s broken-bat single in the sixth scored Davis, who had doubled with one out and stole third base.
Hardy hit a two-run homer off Jason Frasor in the eighth.
NOTES: After the game, the Blue Jays activated OF Adam Lind (lower back strain) from the 15-day DL and optioned IF Eric Thames to Triple-A Las Vegas. Farrell said Lind would serve as the designated hitter Saturday. … Bautista walked twice, once intentionally, and leads the AL with 49. He has reached base safely in 46 of 49 games this season. … Friday night marked the first meeting of the season between the AL East rivals. … Toronto is 14-14 on the road. … In 12 games since being activated from the DL on May 16, Toronto 2B Jayson Nix is 5 for 32. He went 0 for 4 Friday night. … Orioles 1B Derrek Lee, sidelined since May 15 with a strained left oblique, began an injury rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Bowie on Friday, going 2 for 3 with a walk as the DH.