Flight school: O's blast seven homers to keep pace

Flight school: O's blast seven homers to keep pace

Flight school: O's blast seven homers to keep pace
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles have displayed a quiet confidence since Opening Day, never letting the ebb and flow of a long baseball season distract them from their goal of making the postseason for the first time in 15 years.

A pair of losses against the last-place Blue Jays this week had pundits questioning whether the O's could actually withstand the pressure of being in the middle of a hotly-contested playoff chase. On Wednesday night, the Orioles once again answered their critics, showing they plan to remain a formidable club to the end.

The Orioles hit a franchise-record-tying seven home runs and starter Miguel Gonzalez notched his eighth win in a 12-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday night to remain 1 1/2 games back of the American League East-leading Yankees.

"This is one of those years where everyone is just trying to pass the baton and have a good at-bat," manager Buck Showalter said. "I thought some guys made adjustments to the pitching patterns, which was something we didn't do last night too well."

Gonzalez allowed just two runs on five hits with one strikeout and one walk over seven innings. Chris Davis and Manny Machado homered twice, while Nate McLouth, Jim Thome and Mark Reynolds also went deep.

"It was a big win for everyone and I just went out there, threw strikes and tried to keep the ball down and mix my pitches," Gonzalez said. "I think our offense did a great job tonight."

After enjoying their final day off on Thursday, the Orioles will open up a crucial three-game series with the Red Sox on Friday. With six games left on its schedule, Baltimore holds a half-game lead over Oakland in the AL Wild Card standings.

Blue Jays starter Carlos Villanueva was tagged for six runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and one walk in just 4 2/3 innings. Villanueva has now lost each of his past three starts.

"I thought I started out well," said Villanueva. "The ball was breaking well, I had a live fastball, but that last inning, I was one pitch away from letting the game stay under control and it just didn't happen.

"The mistakes I made, they hit them with authority and they did a good job of punishing. They didn't just foul it off or get singles, they put the power stroke on it and made me pay for it."

Edwin Encarnacion gave the Blue Jays an early lead with a solo homer with two outs in the first inning. It was his 42nd home run this season and only the fourth homer Gonzalez has allowed in his past nine starts.

McLouth answered in the bottom half of first with his ninth career leadoff homer and sixth of the season. The Orioles, however, did not have another baserunner until Adam Jones hit a two-out double in the fourth.

"That was a pretty good show tonight. Seven homers in a game is pretty rare, but as tough of a night as we had last night offensively, tonight was that good," McLouth said.

The Blue Jays went ahead 2-1 in the fifth on an RBI single by rookie Anthony Gose, but that was the last time Toronto would hold a lead.

The Orioles pulled even that same inning when Thome roped his seventh home run of the season over the right-field scoreboard. Three batters later, Machado hit his fifth homer. After McLouth and J.J. Hardy hit back-to-back singles, Davis drilled a three-run home run to center field for a 6-2 lead, ending Villanueva's night.

Thome, 42, and Machado, 20, were the first pair of players in AL history, and the third in Major League history, to homer in the same inning while having an age difference of more than 20 years.

"That's crazy," Machado said. "It's a pretty good stat. I remember when I used to watch [Thome] play when I was a little kid. Now to hit a home run in the same inning he did, just feels great."

Reynolds picked up his 23rd home run in the sixth for an 8-2 lead. Davis picked up his third career multihomer game and 28th of the season with a high shot that just cleared the right-center-field wall in the seventh. Machado capped the scoring by drilling a two-run homer in the eighth.

"It was big, especially the way we played last night to come out," said Thome, who spent almost two months on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his neck. "Our crowd was energetic. Up and down the lineup, everyone swung the bat well. It's been fun. Watching them for the last month-and-a-half as we talked, it's been fun to kind of join in and be a part of it, no doubt."

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