TORONTO - The Toronto Blue Jays didn't hang their heads when they struggled at the start of the season.
The mood remained upbeat despite regular losses. The players knew they had the potential to turn things around and fulfil the high expectations.
Toronto took another big step in its attempt to get into contention in the American League East by completing a three-game sweep of division rival Baltimore with a 13-5 rout of the Orioles on Sunday. The Blue Jays also tied a franchise high with their 11th straight win.
The streak has reinvigorated the team's fanbase, the players are all smiles and the early-season woes seem like a distant memory.
"It was a battle early on, we all know that," said Jays manager John Gibbons. "We always figured it was just a matter of time before we started playing better. And (the slump) lasted longer than we expected but that's all behind us now.
"We're rolling along right now."
Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus homered and veteran right-hander Josh Johnson worked into the seventh inning for his first win of the season. Jose Bautista put the game out of reach with a bases-clearing double in the seventh inning to the delight of the sellout crowd of 45,214 on a hot, sunny afternoon at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays (38-36) moved two games over the .500 mark and are now just five games behind first-place Boston. Encarnacion drove in four runs and had three of Toronto's 14 hits.
"I've been waiting for this since the season started," he said. "I believe in this team. I knew that things had to change, that things had to become good for us. So this is the way right now.
"We'll enjoy it, we'll enjoy the moment. I'm not surprised (by) this. I know this team is good and I know we can do it."
The Blue Jays have won 11 games in a row on two other occasions: June 2-13, 1987 and Aug. 27-Sept. 7, 1998. They will go for the franchise record Monday night at Tampa Bay.
Baltimore (42-34) loaded the bases in the opening inning but Johnson (1-2) escaped unscathed when he got Matt Wieters to pop up in foul territory for the third out.
"It seems like if I can get out of the first, things usually go pretty well," Johnson said. "I get a little amped up, maybe too amped up. I've been trying to figure that out for a long time."
The Blue Jays also loaded the bases in the first. Encarnacion and Adam Lind singled before Rasmus drew a walk.
J.P. Arencibia was hit by a pitch to push Encarnacion across home plate for the opening run. Orioles starter Freddy Garcia (3-5) got Maicer Izturis on a strikeout to end the 32-pitch inning.
Toronto added three runs in the second inning. Emilio Bonifacio reached on a slap-bunt single, stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Munenori Kawasaki.
Bonifacio scored on a sacrifice fly by Melky Cabrera. Bautista drew a walk and Encarnacion followed with his 21st home run of the season.
The Blue Jays knocked Garcia out of the game in a five-run third inning. Arencibia singled and scored on an Izturis double.
Bonifacio followed with a double of his own and scored on a two-out single by Cabrera. Bautista walked again and Encarnacion cashed him in with a two-run double off reliever T.J. McFarland.
"We're on a nice little roll right now," Gibbons said. "It's not going to last forever but you enjoy it and you take it while it lasts. If you play good all-around baseball, you've got a chance to win.
"You're not going to win them all but you've got a chance."
Garcia was charged with seven hits, seven earned runs and he allowed two walks.
Baltimore got on the board with a pair of runs in the sixth inning. Manny Machado doubled and scored on a double by Nick Markakis, who came across when Bonifacio booted a one-hopper from Chris Davis that ended up in shallow right field.
Johnson was pulled after Ryan Flaherty hit a two-run shot in the top of the seventh inning. He allowed four earned runs, seven hits, an intentional walk and had five strikeouts.
Rasmus hit a solo homer in the bottom half of the seventh. The rainbow shot just cleared the wall in right field for his 14th homer of the year.
Flaherty added a solo homer in the ninth off Toronto reliever Dustin McGowan.
"They're playing good baseball, they have momentum on their side and we lost two tough ones to start off," Flaherty said. "We ran into a good team and came up short."
Notes: Esmil Rogers (3-2) is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays against the Rays, who will counter with fellow right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (5-3). ... Toronto has won three straight series for the first time since April 29-May 9, 2010. ... The Orioles had 11 hits in the game. ... It was Garcia's shortest start of the season. ... The Blue Jays announced Sunday that they have signed five more players from the 2013 First Year Player Draft. They include first baseman L.B. Dantzler, shortstop Christian Vasquez, left-handers Scott Silverstein and Matt Dermody and right-hander Sean Ratcliffe from Pickering, Ont.