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Donaldson's slam powers Blue Jays past O's

Ninth-inning blast provides insurance in series-opening win
MLB.com @gregorMLB

BALTIMORE -- The Blue Jays were struggling to produce with runners in scoring position all night long. Then Josh Donaldson stepped to the plate in the ninth and made all of those problems seem like a distant memory.

Donaldson hit the fourth grand slam of his career to break the game wide open in the ninth as the Blue Jays moved three games above .500 with a 7-1 victory over the Orioles on Monday night at Camden Yards. Toronto is 7-4 after previously not reaching the seven-win total in 2017 until the 24th game of the season.

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BALTIMORE -- The Blue Jays were struggling to produce with runners in scoring position all night long. Then Josh Donaldson stepped to the plate in the ninth and made all of those problems seem like a distant memory.

Donaldson hit the fourth grand slam of his career to break the game wide open in the ninth as the Blue Jays moved three games above .500 with a 7-1 victory over the Orioles on Monday night at Camden Yards. Toronto is 7-4 after previously not reaching the seven-win total in 2017 until the 24th game of the season.

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Steve Pearce also played a big role in the series opener with a two-run homer off Orioles starter Dylan Bundy. It marked the third consecutive game that Pearce homered as he appears to be completely over a minor calf issue that plagued him for most of Spring Training.

Video: TOR@BAL: Pearce crushes a monster two-run home run

"We've been able to fight, score runs late in games," Donaldson said of his team's hot start. "Our bullpen and starting pitching have been keeping us in games and throwing up zeros in order for us to score runs. I've been very impressed with how we've been able to go out there, put some good at-bats together and score some runs late."

Left-hander J.A. Happ earned the win for the Blue Jays after he limited the Orioles' offense to one run over six innings. The pitching line was impressive but it also overshadows how much of a battle Monday's outing was for Happ. Baltimore put its first two runners on base in three of the first five innings of the game but the lone run came on a solo homer by Manny Machado.

Video: TOR@BAL: Happ K's Davis to end 1st with runners on

The Orioles finished the game 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and they stranded 11 men on base. Toronto wasn't any better until the Donaldson home run with an overall mark of 1-for-8 with RISP and seven men left on base. Bundy was saddled with the loss despite limiting the Blue Jays to a pair of runs on four hits while striking out 10.

For Baltimore, most notably, slugger Chris Davis continues to struggle, breaking his bat over his leg after a sixth-inning strikeout. Davis -- who also slammed his helmet down at another point -- had two strikeouts and a two-strike bunt back to the mound and grounded into a double play.

Video: TOR@BAL: Davis snaps bat in half after striking out

"I certainly didn't make it easy," said Happ, who struck out nine and consistently hit 94 mph with his fastball. "They were stressful innings, it seemed like, the majority of them. Just competing and being aggressive out there. That was the plan coming in … I feel like I did more of that tonight."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Happ escapes: The Orioles loaded the bases in the fifth thanks to a walk and hit by pitch, and Adam Jones tapped back to the mound in what looked like an easy double play. But Happ's throw was a bit wide, causing catcher Russell Martin to be a bit off balance as he threw to first and the ball hit Jones in the back. Jones was ruled to be outside the basepath as he ran to first, and it went down as a 1-2-3 double play.

"Russ made an unbelievable play there, saving the day, after the bad throw," Happ said. "That was awesome."

Video: TOR@BAL: Jays turn strange inning-ending double play

O's threaten, Barnes delivers: A pair of one-out singles by Trey Mancini and Machado off Jays reliever Danny Barnes made things interesting in the seventh. But center fielder Kevin Pillar chased down Jonathan Schoop's long flyout and Barnes got Jones to fly out to left to keep the Jays' lead intact in the sixth.

"That was a very tough game for both sides, and there were a couple of situations where that game could have swung either way and I'm proud how our team stayed in it, stayed in the fight and kept battling and executing and making plays," Donaldson said.

Video: TOR@BAL: Donaldson discusses his fourth career slam

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Donaldson's grand slam was his first since June 14, 2016, vs. Philadelphia. … Yangervis Solarte extended his career-long walk streak to six games. He previously walked in four consecutive games on two separate occasions.

MORALES STRAINS HAMSTRING
Kendrys Morales was forced to leave in the second inning because of a strained right hamstring, but the Blue Jays think he will be able to avoid a stint on the disabled list.

Video: TOR@BAL: Morales exits shortly after legging out hit

Morales was diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain of his hamstring and for now he is considered day to day. The veteran slugger is scheduled to be re-evaluated by the Blue Jays' medical staff on Tuesday when a more definitive timetable for his return will be established.

"No, I don't think so," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said when asked if Morales would need some time on the DL. "I don't think it's a big deal."

WHAT'S NEXT
The Blue Jays will continue their three-game series against the Orioles on Tuesday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET. Aaron Sanchez finished with a no-decision in his last outing, allowing three runs on six hits over six innings. He finished with a loss and no-decision in two starts vs. the O's last season. Randal Grichuk is expected to be back in right field after getting the day off on Monday.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.