By Alykhan Ravjiani and Dhiren Mahiban
TORONTO -- Russell Martin smashed a key three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to help the Blue Jays hold off the Orioles, 10-9, at Rogers Centre on Sunday.
Martin's blast to straightaway center field -- his fifth of the season -- gave Toronto the insurance it needed after nearly blowing a 7-1 lead. Michael Saunders added three hits, while Edwin Encarnacion and Kevin Pillar contributed two hits apiece to give the Blue Jays their third consecutive victory in this four-game series and push Toronto two games over .500 at home (17-15) for the first time all season while narrowing its deficit into the American League East to 2 1/2 games behind the first-place O's and Red Sox.
"You mention the three-run home run by Russ, that's the key to the game right there in a one-run game," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It's off Mychal Givens, who is one of their better relievers. Again, that gave us a little breathing room."
The Blue Jays used a five-run first inning to knock out Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez just one out into the game. Toronto put together three consecutive hits to open the frame and notched six total hits while batting around.
"It's one of the worst feelings for the pitcher -- not being able to go past the first inning," Jimenez said. "I let the team down, I couldn't help the team at all. I put them in a big hole right away for the relievers, the offense, everything. It's disappointing."
Coming off a start in which he took a one-hit shutout into the ninth inning against the Tigers, Aaron Sanchez ran into trouble in the top of the fifth inning, giving up three home runs and four earned runs. Despite picking up the victory, Sanchez finished his day allowing six runs on 10 hits over five innings and became the first Blue Jays pitcher to earn a victory despite serving up four home runs.
"It's just one bad inning really," Sanchez said. "They were able to lift some balls up, obviously the wind was really doing its thing today. There's no excuses. It's just one of those days where they got the better end of me, but I'll learn from that inning and move on."
"It's something positive to take away from the series, that's for sure," Davis said of the comeback. "Any time you're playing a divisional opponent, you want to see what they're made of and give them a good fight, and I thought we did that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Five alive: Toronto jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and knocked Jimenez out of the game just one out into the first inning. The Blue Jays opened with back-to-back doubles from Carrera and Josh Donaldson, before Encarnacion singled home the second run of the inning. Pillar and Devon Travis later added their own back-to-back run-scoring doubles to cap the frame.
Davis continues power surge: For the fourth consecutive game against the Blue Jays and fifth overall, Davis went deep. In the fifth, with the O's trailing, 7-3, the first baseman took Aaron Sanchez yard for a two-run shot, his 16th of the season, as part of a four-run inning. More >
Pillar of strength: Pillar continued his offensive surge at Rogers Centre, cranking a long home run toward the Level of Excellence in the third inning to give the Blue Jays a 7-1 lead. According to Statcast™, Pillar's fourth of the season traveled a projected 417 feet and left the bat at 103 mph. The 27-year-old is batting .342 (13-for-38) in his last 10 games at home.
Short day: Jimenez had the shortest outing of his 11-year career on Sunday afternoon, recording just one out before getting the hook. The 32-year-old right-hander allowed five earned runs on six hits before being replaced by Vance Worley. He has allowed five runs of more seven times in his last nine starts.
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With his two-run home run in the fifth, Davis became the first Oriole to homer in five straight games since Caleb Joseph did so in five straight from Aug. 2-9, 2014. .
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles: Right-hander Chris Tillman (8-1, 3.01 ERA) gets the ball on Tuesday as the Orioles open a three-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park at 7:10 p.m. ET. The 28-year-old is coming off a 4-0 victory over the Royals on Wednesday, which saw him induce a career-high 19 swinging strikes.
Blue Jays: Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey gets the ball as the Blue Jays open a home-and-home series against the Phillies at 7:07 ET on Monday night at Rogers Centre. Dickey went 5 1/3 innings and surrendered two runs his last time out against the Tigers in a 7-2 Toronto victory.