O's blanked, but don't lose ground as Yanks fall

O's blanked, but don't lose ground as Yanks fall

O's blanked, but don't lose ground as Yanks fall
BALTIMORE -- In a stretch where every game has become crucial to remain in the playoff hunt, the Orioles suffered their second consecutive loss to last-place Toronto -- a team that is conversely playing for nothing more than pride.

Baltimore could not generate any offense against six Blue Jays pitchers, and was shut out for the ninth time this season, 4-0, before 30,205 on Tuesday night at Camden Yards.

The O's have still won seven of their past 10 games and remain 1 1/2 games behind the American League East-leading Yankees, who lost to the Twins, 5-4, on Tuesday night.

"They understand where they're at and most importantly, they understand how they got here," manager Buck Showalter said. "And they'll continue with that. One thing I notice in the past, you're always going to get everyone's best shot and when we had been struggling and we'd go into certain venues where there's a good emotion in the ballpark, it feeds the other team as well as us.

"Sometimes, it can work both ways. But no. With the games as they dwindle, our guys don't really have a different approach and I think that's a good thing. They know what's at stake and I'm very proud of what they've done to get to the point where that question could be asked."

Orioles lefty Joe Saunders took the loss, allowing four runs (three earned) on 11 hits with two strikeouts and no walks over 6 1/3 innings. Saunders fell to 2-3 with a 4.09 ERA in six starts since joining Baltimore on Aug. 26.

Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy made his home debut, pitching a scoreless ninth. Before the game, Bundy received the Jim Palmer Award as the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year. That turned out to be one of the few bright spots for the Orioles on this night.

"It's definitely getting my feet wet, getting used to the whole Major League side of it, getting up there and getting used to facing these kind of hitters and learning how to pitch," Bundy said.

Blue Jays starter Aaron Laffey pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing five hits with no strikeouts or walks. The bullpen combined to keep the Orioles off the scoreboard the rest of the way. Laffey (4-6) earned the victory, snapping a streak of six consecutive winless starts.

"Everything I had was out there tonight, but it just shows that if you stay aggressive in the zone and throw quality strikes, regardless of what the velocity of the pitch is, you can get big league hitters out by keeping the ball down in the zone and staying on the edges," Laffey said. "I didn't walk anybody tonight and I think that was the biggest difference maker."

Matt Wieters continued his torrid September, picking up two of the Orioles' six hits. He entered the game batting .329 with five homers and 17 RBIs this month.

"Right now, winning is the only thing that's going to help us," Wieters said. "We know we're going to need to win some games to be able to get in, so we're just going to keep trying to win as many as we can."

The Blue Jays opened a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by rookie Yan Gomes, who was making just his 24th start. Toronto tacked on another run in the fourth on a long two-out single to left field by Adeiny Hechavarria that scored Rajai Davis from first.

Orioles third baseman Manny Machado committed his fourth error in 44 games, which opened the door for two more Blue Jays' runs in the seventh. Colby Rasmus and Edwin Encarnacion did the damage with RBI singles.

"I thought I made some good pitches, some broken-bat hits, a lot of ground ball-hits, just one of those nights where we couldn't get anything done offensively and just fell short," Saunders said.

Baltimore threatened in the seventh when Chris Davis doubled and Machado earned a walk after falling behind 0-2 with one out. However, Brett Cecil stuck out Jim Thome and Brandon Lyon got Ryan Flaherty to ground out to first to end the threat.

Despite being in the heat of the pennant race, the Orioles have not resorted to scoreboard watching.

"We're still enjoying ourselves and we're still having fun," center fielder Adam Jones said. "We gotta get some wins. That's what we've been doing since the first day of Spring Training. Now, we're just in a position where each game matters. It's a cool position to be in. We're trying to get more runs on our scoreboard."

Todd Karpovich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.