TORONTO – With their bullpen thinned by two trades, the Blue Jays were counting on a strong start from Ricky Romero. Toronto's ace didn't disappoint.
Romero came within two outs of a complete game to win for the first time in five starts, J.P. Arencibia homered and the Blue Jays beat the Orioles 3-0 on Wednesday night.
Toronto manager John Farrell was thankful for Romero's lengthy outing.
"On a night we needed Ricky to go deep, he certainly did that," Farrell said. "He did an outstanding job tonight. He certainly did more than his job tonight."
The Blue Jays had just 22 active players, including six relievers, after making the trades earlier Wednesday. Right-hander Jason Frasor and minor league righty Zach Stewart went to the Chicago White Sox for right-hander Edwin Jackson and utilityman Mark Teahen. Toronto then sent Jackson, outfielder Corey Patterson, right-hander Octavio Dotel and left-hander Marc Rzepczynski to St. Louis for outfielder Colby Rasmus, righty P.J. Walters and left-handers Trever Miller and Brian Tallet.
None of the newcomers arrived in time to play, so the Blue Jays recalled lefty Brad Mills from Triple-A Las Vegas to provide depth in the bullpen. Toronto will be at full strength Thursday.
Romero (8-9) struck out Adam Jones to begin the ninth but was replaced by Jon Rauch after Vladimir Guerrero reached on a wild third strike and Derrek Lee was hit by a pitch. The left-hander allowed four hits, walked three and struck out nine.
Romero said his approach didn't change because of the bullpen absences.
"My job no matter what is to try and throw a complete game," he said. "No matter whether it's eight guys available or five guys available. Under the circumstances today they definitely needed me and I was happy to come through."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Romero had plenty in his arsenal to keep hitters guessing.
"All of his pitches were in the hitter's mindset because he's around the plate with them," Showalter said. "There wasn't one you could box out. A lot of the times with starters, because of command issues on a certain pitch, you can box it out. You couldn't do that tonight."
Romero, who threw a season-high 126 pitches, had not won since June 26 at St. Louis, going 0-2 with a 5.87 ERA in four starts. He is 5-1 in his past seven starts against Baltimore, including 4-0 at home.
Jones said the Orioles couldn't afford to try and work the count against Romero.
"He was out there throwing strike one on everybody," Jones said. "It seemed like everybody was 0-1. And when you do that, you've got to swing the bat. He made you swing the bat."
Baltimore's best chance came in the second, when Lee drew a leadoff walk and Wieters followed with a single. Reynolds grounded into a double play but Felix Pie walked to put runners on the corners. Romero escaped by retiring his former college roommate at Cal State Fullerton, second baseman Blake Davis.
"That breaking ball looks like a strike and makes you chase it," Davis said. "He was good."
The Orioles scored a season-high 12 runs and had 16 hits Tuesday, including a season-high eight for extra bases. They couldn't get anything going against Romero, who set down 11 of 12 between the second and sixth innings.
"We let him off the hook," Baltimore's Nick Markakis said. "When you do that against good pitchers and they get in a little groove, it's tough to battle back the rest of the game."
Returning to the lineup one night after he was hit on the helmet by a pitch, Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista started at third base and singled home a run in the first. Bautista, who leads the majors with 31 home runs, went hitless in his final three at-bats but made a leaping catch on Davis' liner in the eighth.
The Blue Jays made it 2-0 in the second. Rajai Davis hit a one-out single and stole second and third before scoring on a two-out hit by Eric Thames.
Arencibia hit a two-out drive to left in the fourth, his 16th.
Orioles right-hander Alfredo Simon lost for the third time in four starts since joining the rotation earlier this month. Simon (2-4) allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings. He walked two, one intentional, and struck out a season-high seven.
Simon has received just three runs of support in his four starts, all of them in a 6-5 win over Cleveland on July 16.
Baltimore must win Thursday to avoid losing its eighth straight series. The Orioles have not won a series since taking two of three from Cincinnati from June 24-26.
Notes: The Orioles have lost eight of nine on the road. ... The Blue Jays signed RHP Jeremy Gabrszwski, their second-round pick in the June draft. ... Orioles RHP Brad Bergesen (2-6) will face Toronto RHP Carlos Villanueva (5-2) in Thursday's series finale.