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Blue Jays rally over Orioles for fourth straight victory


The Blue Jays have now won four games in a row following their 3-2 victory against the Orioles on Tuesday at the Rogers Centre.

The O’s have lost five straight; they now appear to be the only target for the Jays in terms of escaping last place, at least accomplishing something.

The Orioles carried a one-run lead into the ninth, but ace closer Zach Britton allowed two runs on a game-tying single by catcher Luke Maile and a game-winning single to centre field by 21-year-old shortstop Richard Urena.

Britton blew just his second save in, well, forever.

For the Jays, Tim Mayza picked up his first career win.

“You feel a lot of emotions and you dream about that,” Urena said through an interpreter. “You come out here and you’re just trying to do your job. It’s just a plus when you get the chance right there to win a game.”

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Urena was called up from Double-A New Hampshire, where he hit .241. In nine games with the Jays, he is batting .324 and is riding a five-game hitting streak. It shouldn’t be that easy for a 21-year-old in his first look at major-league pitching.

“It’s not too different, Double-A from the major-leagues,” Urena said. “The only difference is here they have more control of where the pitches are going. I can put better swings on those pitches around the zone, not all over the place.”

The Jays improbable experiment of converting right-hander Joe Biagini from an effective major-league setup man back into a starting pitcher continued, a role he last filled in the Double-A Eastern League in 2015.

The biggest challenge for Biagini thus far in the conversion has been maintaining an effective pitch count. Against the O’s, he had the lowest average pitches per inning of any of his 15 big-league starts. For his first 14 outings, he averaged 16.8 pitches per inning over 68 2/3 innings pitched. On this night, the 27-year-old worked eight innings, using just 88 pitches for an average of 11.0 per frame.

“Actually his stuff was (the most encouraging),” Jays manager John Gibbons said. “It’s all related. He was really good. Just a good live fastball, a dominating performance. Good for him, he needed that.”

Biagini was in total control through the first six innings, with no opponent advancing into scoring position. But in the seventh, he stumbled. Leading off the inning, Trey Mancini pulled a double into the left-field corner and with two outs, Mark Trumbo looped an RBI single to centre field in front of Kevin Pillar. That tied the game at one and carried it to Baltimore’s solid bullpen.

The O’s took the lead in the eighth with Biagini in uncharted territory. Shortstop Tim Beckham crushed the starter’s 86th offering to left-centre for the go-ahead home run. He pitched well enough to win, but was tagged with a no-decision.

“A game like this was almost really frustrating,” Biagini said. “Because it’s just not quite enough. When you’re cruising along and you have it turn like that quickly, it always eats at you a little bit.”

The Jays opened the scoring in the third against talented right-hander Dylan Bundy. Maile led off with a line drive to right-centre field for a single. Urena and Josh Donaldson pasted Baltimore’s outfielders to the wall for long flyball outs, then Justin Smoak launched a drive to right that went off a leaping Joey Rickard’s glove as he bumped into the fence for a run-scoring double.

Maile was making his 34th start of the season and fifth since returning from the disabled list following knee surgery. But with catcher Russell Martin activated from the disabled list (right oblique) and slated to start Wednesday’s series finale, future starts may be limited for Maile and the two other catchers on the expanded roster, Miguel Montero and Raffy Lopez.

For his part, Martin just wants to play.

“As a professional when you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go,” Martin said prior to Tuesday’s game. “It’s a (long) time that it took to get better and when you’re a professional you go out there and compete. If you’re healthy you play and you help your team win. That’s what I’m going to try to do.”

TORONTO STAR | SPORTS

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