By Gregor Chisholm and Keegan Matheson
The Orioles halted their losing streak at six games and avoided the sweep in Toronto on Wednesday night with a well-pitched 2-1 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
With the win, Baltimore remained 4 1/2 games of the Twins in the American League Wild Card race after Minnesota's victory over San Diego, and still need to leap over the Mariners, Royals, Rangers and Angels after its recent skid.
"It's that time of year," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Look all over baseball. You hear me talk a lot about snowballing, and it takes sometimes one game to get a little direction. We've been pitching well on this trip."
Kevin Gausman held Toronto to one run over his seven innings of work, and the right-hander's line could have been even better given the amount of weak contact he forced. Gausman allowed six hits and a walk while striking out six to continue his dominance against the Blue Jays in 2017.
"He didn't have a feel for his offspeed pitch early," Showalter said. "He didn't. They were talking about it in the dugout, then he got a feel for it about the fourth inning and really made it part of the repertoire. So he pitched with fastball command, and that's been the difference in him the past couple months where he's really turned his year around."
Marcus Stroman dropped his ERA to 3.08 with six strong innings of his own, allowing just two runs which were both unearned in the top of the first. The right-hander quickly settled the game down and held Baltimore to six hits while striking out seven.
In the top of the sixth, trainer George Poulis and manager John Gibbons came to the mound as Stroman was dealing with an apparent injury, but the righty pushed through the rest of the inning before exiting after 92 pitches.
"He grimaced on a pitch and we wanted to make sure there was nothing to it," Gibbons said. "He was fine but you always get concerned when you see that. Forearm was a little tight but he was good. Good stuff today. Really all pitchers on both sides were really good tonight. Low-scoring game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED O's get a helping hand: Josh Donaldson made a throwing error on the first pitch of the game that allowed Tim Beckham to reach base, and that proved costly as the Orioles drove in their first two runs with two out. Adam Jones doubled home Beckham on a ball to left field that Teoscar Hernandez took a poor route on, then Trey Mancini brought Jones home with a loud triple that carried over the head of Kevin Pillar in center and bounced off the wall.
"Josh, you usually don't see throws like that," Gibbons said. "The first play of the game and then the one that squirted by him. That's rare but it happens."
Stroman dances out of a jam: Stroman escaped a huge jam in the top of the fourth after loading the bases with nobody out. Following a Mancini double and walks to Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis, pitching coach Pete Walker paid Stroman a visit, and the right-hander settled down and went to work. Seth Smith struck out swinging for the first out, then Stroman used his two-seamer to force Caleb Joseph to ground into an inning-ending double play.
"Stroman was pitching today, so I knew runs were going to be at a premium. It was going to be a low-scoring ballgame. We got those two runs and I just kind of told myself, 'Hey, those are your runs. That's all you're going to get today.'" -- Gausman
"A hundred percent. I don't think what [former Blue Jays starter Mark] Buehrle did [throwing 200 innings for 14 seasons in a row] will ever be done again. But 100 percent. Being able to go out there every fifth day and go deep in games, there's so many positive effects that come from that -- giving the bullpen rest. You don't realize how much that does over the course of a season. So that's definitely something I'll continue to pride myself on." -- Stroman, on being influenced by Buehrle on making 200 innings a goal every season
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Stroman leads the Major Leagues with 31 ground-ball double plays this season. That's also tied for second most in one year by a Toronto pitcher. Dave Stieb had 35 in 1980.
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles: Left-hander Wade Miley (8-12, 4.96 ERA) opens Baltimore's series against the Yankees at 7:05 p.m. ET in New York on Thursday. Walks have continued to be an issue for Miley this season, as he owns a career-high rate of 5.1 walks per nine innings.
Blue Jays: Left-hander Brett Anderson (3-3, 5.90) will make his fourth start of the season for Toronto when the Blue Jays open up a four-game series on the road vs. the Twins on Thursday night, with first pitch scheduled for 8:10 p.m. ET. Anderson has yet to walk a batter in 17 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays this season and has not allowed more than three runs in any of his three starts.