O's blast past Jays to boost AL East lead
Joseph, Schoop, Davis go deep to back a strong start by Norris
TORONTO -- The Orioles muscled up in a heavyweight bout against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, knocking three homers to take the series opener between the American League East rivals.
It was Baltimore's Major League-leading 41st multihomer game, and in swatting its 134th, 135th and 136th dingers of the season, the club passed Toronto for the most in the Majors.
Caleb Joseph, Jonathan Schoop and Chris Davis all went deep as the power-hitting Orioles won their third straight and topped the Blue Jays, 9-3, at Rogers Centre.
"Homers are cool," joked Joseph, who has homered in three straight games. "Chicks dig the long ball, right?"
It was the third win in a row for the AL East leaders, who extended their division lead over the Blue Jays to five games.
The O's offense drove Toronto starter Mark Buehrle from the game with 10 hits over four innings. Half of those came in the fourth.
Already down 1-0, the veteran lefty was burned by back-to-back homers on a pair of 2-2 counts to Joseph and Schoop to lead off the fourth.
The visitors continued to apply pressure as Nick Markakis and Manny Machado hit back-to-back singles, putting two on with no outs. It went from bad to worse for Buehrle and the Blue Jays, as the southpaw, after getting the first out, uncorked a wild pitch that allowed the runners to advance into scoring position.
A seemingly routine grounder from Delmon Young then spun away from third baseman Danny Valencia, and Markakis scored for a 4-0 lead.
It was the second time in three starts Buehrle has pitched fewer than five innings, and the third time he's allowed two homers in a game. He gave up four runs and three walks.
"We were fortunate enough to catch him on a night that he might have elevated some balls he normally doesn't," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "We didn't allow him to get in that rhythm that he gets into when he's commanding pitches … he's always a pitch away."
The Blue Jays caught a brief spark on a two-out, two-run shot from Colby Rasmus in the bottom half of the fourth to cut the deficit in half, but Davis homered off reliever Aaron Sanchez to get back the three-run Baltimore lead in the fifth as the Orioles improved to 31-10 in multihomer games this season.
Bud Norris, meanwhile, continued to enjoy success against his rivals from the north. The right-hander went 5 1/3 innings and improved to 3-0 in four starts against the Blue Jays this season.
It was his sixth win in his last nine starts. Norris allowed seven hits while striking out six with a pair of walks.
"It's a lot easier to pitch with a lead, when you've got more of a cushion. I made a bad pitch to Rasmus, but I knew it didn't really kill me there in that situation," Norris said. "But when you have a cushion, you can attack the strike zone that much more … it helps the starting pitcher and even the bullpen. Putting up nine is a big number."
Norris came off the field with a limp at the conclusion of the third inning and appeared to be favoring his ankle. But he looked fine by the next trip to the field, making a tough fielding play on a Valencia chopper, leaping from the mound to catch the ball on a high bounce before making the out.
The Blue Jays made a late charge in the seventh after leading off the inning with three straight singles to load the bases for Jose Bautista. He scored Ryan Goins from third on a sac fly, but Dioner Navarro hit into a double play to end the threat.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said it'll take a better effort to beat the first-place Orioles.
"We are a team of extremes," Gibbons said. "We have to score runs for this team, no question about it. We have to score runs to win. We just got beat around today a little bit. We came in and they outplayed us."