1st-place Blue Jays down O's with 1st-inning HRs

1st-place Blue Jays down O's with 1st-inning HRs

BALTIMORE -- Toronto used a three-run first inning, including homers by Jose Bautista and Russell Martin, to stay hot on the road and continue to pace the American League East.

The Blue Jays, 5-3 winners in Wednesday's rubber game over Baltimore at Camden Yards, are 36-29 away from Rogers Centre, which is good for the highest road winning percentage (.554) in the AL. The red-hot Blue Jays (76-57) kept their AL East lead to two games over the Red Sox and pushed third-place Baltimore (72-61) into a tie with Detroit for the second Wild Card spot.

"It's never easy when you play these guys," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "This time of year, I mean this is a team we're locked in it with. It's always big to beat them."

Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez, pitching on 10 days' rest after being sent to the Minors, held the Orioles to one unearned run on five hits and three walks over six innings, striking out two while picking up his 13th win.

Winning return to bigs for sharp Sanchez

"I think that rest probably did him a world of wonders," Gibbons said. "They battled, they made a run at him late, but it just shows you how far he's come, he managed to hang in there and get the big out in the fifth inning and went back out there for the sixth."

Sanchez escapes trouble

Toronto added an insurance run in the seventh, and Michael Saunders belted a solo shot -- his seventh homer against Baltimore this year -- off O's reliever Brad Brach in the eighth.

Orioles starter Yovani Gallardo, after giving up three runs in the first inning, held Toronto off the board for the rest of his six-inning start. The righty allowed five hits and two walks, striking out three.

Jonathan Schoop hit a two-out, two-run homer for the Orioles in the ninth.

"We got a month of baseball left. We got through a tough [month], we knew August was going to be tough," manager Buck Showalter said. "Did some good things, but not as many as we would have liked. We got an opportunity. A lot of baseball to be played. Anybody who sells us short doesn't get the essence of our players. That's fine. They've been doing that all year to us."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
First-inning fireworks: The Blue Jays didn't waste any time getting on the board as Bautista drove the first pitch of the game into the left-field seats. It was his fourth leadoff homer of the season and the eighth of his career. With two outs in the first, Martin lifted a towering fly ball toward right field that carried enough to reach the first row of seats to give Toronto a 3-0 edge before Sanchez even took the mound.

"Any time you get the jump ahead on a good team, it kind of gives you a little cushion, gives you a little breathing room," Martin said. "But we know what their capabilities are on the other side. They can put up more than three runs in a heartbeat."

Bautista's leadoff home run

O's missing the big hit: Baltimore's lone run the first eight innings came on Josh Donaldson's error, as the Orioles were unable to come up with the big hit all night. The Orioles left the bases loaded in the fifth and didn't score again until Schoop's blast.

"His fastball, he's got sink to it. He's got late sink to it, and he commanded it really good today," Schoop said of Sanchez. "He's got a good curveball, and his changeup -- all season long, he's thrown them good. And he commands his fastball really good."

Kim comes home on error

Navarro debuts: In his first game back with the Blue Jays since being acquired from the White Sox, Dioner Navarro went 2-for-4 with a run as the designated hitter. While Navarro isn't known for his speed, he managed to score from first on Devon Travis' two-out double in the seventh. Navarro, who hit .210 with Chicago this year, was 2-for-14 in his final five games with the club.

"The addition of [Navarro], I think everybody seemed to be pleased in here and just that extra weapon heading into this last month," Sanchez said.

Travis' RBI double

Gallardo settles down: Coming off the shortest start of his career, Gallardo looked on track for another brief appearance. But he rebounded nicely after a three-run first, going six strong innings to keep the O's from having to extend the bullpen.

"It was just one of those things that was frustrating. It's never easy for those guys to come from behind, especially in the first inning, giving up three runs in the first inning," Gallardo said. "After that I was able to put up zeros, put up zeros and make pitches whenever I had to, get some ground balls, get out of some tough jams."

Gallardo induces the double play

ORIOLES ACQUIRE BOURN
Baltimore announced a trade in the eighth inning, acquiring outfielder Michael Bourn from the D-backs in exchange for Minor League outfielder Jason Heinrich. Earlier in the day, they claimed outfielder Drew Stubbs off waivers from the Rangers. More >

Showalter on O's getting Bourn

UMPIRE INJURY
Home-plate umpire Jerry Layne left the game in the bottom of the third inning after a pitch deflected off Martin's glove and struck him in the mask. Second-base umpire Alan Porter moved behind the plate for the remainder of the contest as the crew proceeded with three umpires. More >

Umpire exits with injury

WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: After an off-day Thursday, the Blue Jays will open a three-game set against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Toronto has struggled a bit against the last-place Rays, going 6-7 against them this year. The Blue Jays haven't announced who will start the three games.

Orioles: Baltimore will enjoy an off-day on Thursday before welcoming the Yankees, who are in the hunt for a Wild Card spot, into town for a three-game series. The O's will send Dylan Bundy to the mound on Friday for the 7:05 p.m. ET game.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Ryan Baillargeon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore and covered the Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.