Orioles 6, Blue Jays 5: Squeaking By

If Jim Johnson is fixed, I feel a lot better about the bullpen. - Tom Szczerbowski

It wasn't pretty, but the O's beat the Jays again - ensuring at least a split and giving them a chance to win the four-game series tomorrow.

Freddy Garcia vs. R.A. Dickey isn't exactly a matchup you feel good about, even accounting for Dickey's struggles this year. Fortunately for the Orioles, those struggles continued in this start, as they scored six runs off of last year's NL Cy Young winner. That turned out to be just enough, as Freddy Garcia pitched passably, and the Blue Jays couldn't quite tie the game despite getting to the O's bullpen in the eighth.

Nate McLouth led off the game with an infield single, and after Manny Machado hit into a fielder's choice, Nick Markakis walked. Adam Jones popped out, but with two outs, Chris Davis hit a ground-rule double to keep the rally going and score McLouth. J.J. Hardy then delivered the big hit, driving in two runs with a single to center and giving the Orioles a first-inning three-run lead for the second game in a row.

Freddy Garcia looked pretty hittable in the bottom of the first, giving up just enough soft contact to allow a run to score. He continued to be hittable in the second, as Emilio Bonifacio smacked a solo homer to right field. The O's gave Garcia some more runs to work with in the third, though, as two more scored on two outs, via a Hardy double and Danny Valencia's second two-run blast of the series.

Garcia pitched pretty well in the third and fourth innings, but ran into trouble in the fifth, surrendering a third run on a pair of singles and a tough error. Brett Lawrie reached on an RBI swinging bunt up the first-base line, as Garcia and Davis couldn't quite make the out. They probably shouldn't have been expected to, though, as Lawrie stayed just inside fair territory while running up the line and could've been called out for doing so. Garcia did recover to get the last out, but an inflated pitch count meant his afternoon was over. Honestly, I'll take five innings and three runs from him every time.

Steve Johnson came on in relief, and pitched quite well in the sixth and seventh innings, getting three strikeouts and lots of soft contact around a Jose Bautista double. Meanwhile, Adam Jones crushed a solo shot to left field in the seventh, giving the O's what would turn out to be the winning run with his third homer in as many games. Johnson got into trouble in the eighth, as Brett Lawrie hit a leadoff double. Steve almost got out of it, striking out the next two Jays, but he then walked Maicer Izturis and gave up an RBI grounder to Munenori Kawasaki. Darren O'Day came on to record the third out, but allowed another run to score, making Johnson's outing look a lot worse than it was and causing Birdland to fret about the ninth inning.

Thankfully, those worries were unwarranted, as Jim Johnson looked much better than he has in his last few outings: he kept the ball low in the zone, got good sink, and retired the three batters he faced. O's win, 6-5. Tomorrow, Miguel Gonzalez will face Chad Jenkins, as the O's will try to leave Toronto with a series win rather than a split.

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