SPORTS

Hutchison pitches gem in Blue Jays 7-6 win over Orioles; Toronto completes sweep

04/23/2015 09:50 EDT | Updated 07/21/2015 04:59 EDT
TORONTO - Drew Hutchison may have been flirting with a perfect game for five innings, but he didn't notice.

He struck out seven over eight innings as the Toronto Blue Jays routed the Baltimore Orioles 7-6 on Thursday to complete a three-game series sweep.

"I think you're just out there concentrating on one guy at a time," said Hutchison when asked about the possibility of a perfect game after retiring the first 15 batters he faced. "I wasn't really thinking about it."

Hutchison (2-0) finished with two earned runs on four hits and one hit batter. His eight inning performance is the longest outing of any Blue Jays pitcher this season.

"He really gave us what we needed," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "We've been looking for that seven-, eight-inning start. That always helps everybody out."

Hutchison established his strike zone early in the game, taking control of every at bat.

"I just felt like I did a good job of being aggressive in the zone," said Hutchison. "I got a good tempo going, a good rhythm, and the ball was coming out good so I was able to find my fastball early and get ahead of guys and that was the difference."

Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer and a double to lead Toronto's (9-7) offence. Kevin Pillar, starting in right field for the injured Jose Bautista, had two hits and two runs batted in.

Gibbons said before the game that Bautista would likely not have to go on the disabled list for a strained right shoulder sustained in Tuesday's 13-6 win. However, backup catcher Dioner Navarro was placed on the 15-day DL earlier Thursday with a strained hamstring. Josh Thole was called up from triple-A Buffalo to replace him.

Toronto finished its 10-game homestand with a 5-5 record but left Rogers Centre with a three-game win streak before a long 10-game road trip starting in Tampa on Friday.

"Obviously we didn't start (the homestand) the way we wanted to, but we finished more in our style of baseball," said catcher Russell Martin. "Felt like we played really good baseball these last three games, in this last series, got a sweep. Definitely feels good heading on to the road now."

Chris Tillman (2-2) struggled through 4 1/3 innings of work for Baltimore (7-9). He gave up seven earned runs on five hits and five walks, striking out three.

Toronto opened the scoring in the third inning when Devon Travis hit into a fielder's choice, giving Danny Valencia the chance to cross home.

Orioles catcher Ryan Lavarnway dropped the ball on the play, so Pillar tried to score from third. Lavarnway recovered the ball quickly and easily tagged out Pillar.

Donaldson hit a home run to the second deck in left field in the next at-bat, driving in Travis and giving the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead.

Valencia added to Toronto's lead in the next inning, driving in Justin Smoak with a double to left field. Pillar then made up for his earlier gaffe with a lucky bounce hit up the left-field line bounced off third base and into left field, bringing home Martin and Valencia for a 6-0 Blue Jays lead.

Extra-base hits fuelled Toronto's offence in the fifth inning as well. A double put Donaldson on base, followed by a Smoak walk. Martin hit a double to left, cashing in Donaldson.

Manny Machado ended Hutchison's bid for a perfect game with a home run on the first pitch of the sixth inning, driving the ball over the left-field fence to make it 7-1.

Baltimore tacked on another run when Delmon Young's single to centre field drove Adam Jones home from second.

A single by Young in the ninth inning plated Jones, chipping at Toronto's lead.

Machado then crushed a 2-2 pitch from Blue Jays reliever Miguel Castro, driving in Young and Travis Snider to make it 7-6. Castro struck out Lavarnway for the final out of the game and his fourth save of the season.

"It looked like he got a little ticked off right there and got his fastball back down in the zone and was able to get that last out, got that win," said Martin. "Took a blow but came back and threw another punch and finished strong."

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