A day after wasting Dylan Bundy’s quality start in a walk-off loss to the Blue Jays, the Orioles did just enough Wednesday night to back right-hander Kevin Gausman, avoiding a three-game sweep and ending their six-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Toronto.
Halting their slide was the biggest victory of all, because the Orioles were heading in the wrong direction quickly. And after losing each of the first two games in Toronto by just one run — their past four losses were all decided by one or two runs — the Orioles finally emerged from a close game victorious.
And one night after blowing a one-run lead and losing the game in Tuesday night’s walk-off loss, closer Zach Britton rebounded with a scoreless ninth inning to convert his 14th save in 16 opportunities.
Gausman, who was coming off a three-inning outing in his previous start — tied for his shortest nonejection start of the season, held the Blue Jays to one run over six hits over seven innings.
The Orioles (72-74) scored both their runs in the first inning, taking advantage of a throwing error by Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson on the first batter of the game, which allowed leadoff man Tim Beckham to reach base.
Center fielder Adam Jones hit a two-out double past left fielder Teoscar Hernández and off the outfield wall to score Beckham and then scored on Trey Mancini’s triple that missed going over the center-field wall by a few feet.
Gausman worked his way out of trouble magnificently. After allowing an RBI double to Richard Ureña in the second inning, he loaded the bases with one out, but induced a 6-4-3 double play ball to get out of the inning.
He had runners at second and third in the fourth after allowing back-to-back one-out singles and Mancini’s fielding error on the second single put both runners in scoring position. But Gausman induced a 6-3 groundout and flyout to center to emerge unscathed.
And he was able to complete the seventh after allowing a one-out walk to Hernández on his 103rd pitch of the night by getting 6-4-3 double-play ball by Ryan Goins to end the inning.
Gausman pitched effectively with his fastball, getting the Blue Jays to chase up in the zone. Four of his six strikeouts came on fastballs, including three swinging in the upper half of the zone. Gausman got 18 of his 28 strike calls (five swinging and 13 called) with his fastball.
Take away his previous start – when he allowed five runs over three inning against the Yankees – and Gausman has allowed one or fewer runs in his three other most recent starts, posting a 0.44 ERA over that span.
The Orioles had a chance to break the game open twice against Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman but came away with no runs in either inning.
They loaded the bases against Stroman with no outs in the fourth after Mancini’s leadoff double was followed by back-to-back walks to Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis.
But Stroman needed five more pitches to get out of the inning as slumping right fielder Seth Smith struck out on three pitches, swinging through a slider for strike three, and Caleb Joseph hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
The Orioles has two on with one out in the sixth as Stroman battled his control – the team trainer came out to see him after he slouched after throwing a pitch to Davis — but Smith hit into a 4-6-3 double play that ended that threat.
That double play made Smith 0-for-3 on the night and 2-for-23 in nine games in September.
Britton — who allowed four of the five batters he faced in the ninth inning to reach Tuesday as he allowed two runs in the ninth — was back on the mound and pitched a scoreless ninth.
He worked around a one-out single to Kendrys Morales, getting Kevin Pillar to hit a bouncing ball up the middle that Jonathan Schoop scooped, touched second base and went to first to complete the game-ending double play, the Orioles third inning-ending double play of the night.
Britton needed just six pitched to earn the save.