TORONTO – Joe Saunders and three relievers combined on a three-hitter and the charging Baltimore Orioles blanked Toronto 4-0 Monday, cutting their AL East deficit to one game.
The Orioles, who took two of three at Yankee Stadium over the weekend, moved even closer to New York. The Yankees lost 4-3 at Tampa Bay.
J.J. Hardy drove in two runs as the Orioles won for the eighth time in 10 games. Their one-game gap marks the closest anyone has been to the Yankees since mid-June.
Baltimore had lost four in a row at Toronto.
Acquired recently from Arizona, Saunders (1-1) retired the first 17 Blue Jays batters before Adeiny Hechavarria lined a two-out single to center in the sixth inning.
Saunders bounced back nicely from his Baltimore debut, when he allowed six runs in 5 1-3 innings in a loss to the White Sox.
After Hechavarria's hit, Rajai Davis followed with a walk, but Saunders struck out Colby Rasmus to end the inning. Saunders allowed three hits in 6 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out two.
Luis Ayala replaced Saunders after the Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. Ayala escaped by fanning rookie Moises Sierra and getting Jeff Mathis to fly out.
Pedro Strop worked the eighth and Jim Johnson finished for Baltimore.
Adam Jones had two hits and Nick Markakis reached three times for the Orioles.
The Orioles opened the scoring in the second when Manny Machado led off with a fly down the line in right. Fighting the sun and making a long run to the ball, Sierra couldn't come up with the sliding catch and was charged with a three-base error. Machado scored when Nate McLouth followed with a sacrifice bunt.
Baltimore tacked on two more in the fifth on back-to-back RBI doubles by Markakis and Hardy. Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ avoided further damage by striking out Matt Wieters, Mark Reynolds and Machado to strand runners at second and third.
Hardy added an RBI single in the eighth.
Happ (3-2) allowed three runs, two earned, and six hits in five-plus innings. He walked two and struck out nine.
Brad Lincoln came on after McLouth doubled off the wall to begin the sixth. A walk, a sacrifice and an intentional walk loaded the bases for Hardy, but he grounded into an inning-ending double play.
NOTES: Toronto recalled LHP Brett Cecil and activated RHP Jason Frasor (forearm) off the 15-day DL. ... The Orioles selected LHP Zach Phillips from Triple-A Norfolk and designated RHP Jason Berken for assignment. Baltimore also recalled RHP Tommy Hunter from Double-A Bowie. ... Blue Jays C J.P. Arencibia (right hand) has begun a rehab assignment at Class-A Dunedin and could rejoin the team by the end of the week, manager John Farrell said. ... The Orioles will recall RHP Zach Britton before Tuesday's game, allowing him to start against Toronto.