Baseball / Sports

Despite good start by Jimenez, Orioles fall to Blue Jays 4-0

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles signed right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez this spring for games like Friday night's, when he had the opportunity to help his new team cut the gap between it and the top of the American League East.

And while Jimenez delivered a quality start -- albeit a wobbly one in which he battled his control -- the Orioles still dropped a 4-0 decision to the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays in front of an announced sellout crowd of 44,031 at Camden Yards.

The club has lost 11 of Jimenez's 14 starts this year and Jimenez has lost four straight decisions. He is still searching for his first win at Camden Yards this season, where he's 0-6 in seven starts.

But the Orioles -- who suffered their fifth shutout loss of the season and their second in the past four games -- haven't given Jimenez much help offensively. Not only have they scored three or fewer runs in 11 of Jimenez's 14 starts, but they've scored one run or fewer in six of them, including four of his last five outings.

The loss dropped the Orioles (34-32) to 4 1/2 games back of the Jays (40-29) in the AL East standings with two games remaining in the four-game series.

The Orioles are 8-23 when scoring three or fewer runs and 26-9 when plating four or more runs.

Jimenez (2-8) only allowed two runs on three hits over six innings, but tied a season-high with five walks.

Since Jimenez's last start--a disastrous 2 1/3-inning, six-run outing against the Oakland Athletics – the Orioles starting rotation has produced five consecutive quality starts.

Meanwhile, Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison held the Orioles scoreless for seven innings, scattering six hits. In two starts against the Orioles this season, he hasn't allowed an earned run in 13 innings.

The Orioles still had their opportunities against Hutchison, but were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Jimenez dodged danger throughout the night, but limited the Blue Jays' damage against him to a two-run homer by Toronto third baseman Juan Francisco in the second inning.

After Jimenez issued a one-out walk to Brett Lawrie, Francisco crushed a 1-0 fastball over the middle of the plate into the Orioles bullpen in left-center field for his 11th homer of the season.

Jimenez was aided by some timely Orioles defense. He received double-play balls to end the first and second inning. Manny Machado, who had three hits on the night, also made a nice sliding snag at third on Jose Bautista's sharp hopper into the hole to end the third inning.

Following a two-out walk that immediately followed Francisco's homer, Jimenez retired nine straight Toronto batters and allowed just three additional base runners, including one hit.

The Orioles had base runners in each of the first four innings against Hutchison, but couldn't break through against the Toronto right-hander.

They loaded the bases in the fourth inning, getting back-to-back, two-out singles from J.J. Hardy and Machado, but Jonathan Schoop's deep fly ball to center was caught at the warning track for the final out.

Hardy opened the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff double down the left-field line, but was stranded at second following a pair of one-pitch flyouts by Machado and Schoop and an inning-ending flyout from catcher Caleb Joseph.

Following a 21-minute rain delay, the Blue Jays quickly scored two runs – one earned – in the top of the eighth off Orioles right-hander Tommy Hunter.

After Hunter opened the inning walking No. 9 hitter Anthony Gose, Jose Reyes reached on a grounder that deflected off Hunter's glove and skipped past Schoop at second for an error.

Gose then scored on Hunter's wild pitch, and two batters later, Bautista looped a single to center to score Reyes and put the Blue Jays up 4-0.

The Orioles lost a replay challenge that would have loaded the bases in the eighth inning. The call ruling Nelson Cruz out on a close play at first base was upheld.

(c)2014 The Baltimore Sun

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