Shoemaker solid as Blue Jays avoid sweep

TORONTO – Matt Shoemaker tossed seven scoreless innings for a second straight start in a Toronto uniform, Randal Grichuk homered twice and the Blue Jays held on to beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3 on Wednesday.

Shoemaker (2-0), coming off a seven-inning shutout performance against Detroit in his Toronto debut last week, allowed two hits, one walk and struck out eight as the Jays (3-4) salvaged one win in the three-game series against their division rivals.

But Baltimore didn’t make it easy.

Trey Mancini gave the Orioles (4-2) late life with a three-run homer off Daniel Hudson in the ninth, but Ken Giles replaced him and recorded two outs to preserve the victory.

Grichuk had a monster day at the plate with two homers and a double less than 24 hours after signing a five-year contract extension. It was the sixth multi-homer game of his career.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drove in two late runs for Toronto, which handed the Orioles (4-2) their first loss in five games.

Nate Karns (0-1) opened the game on a bullpen day for Baltimore, allowing an unearned run and three hits while striking out four over two innings.

Grichuk’s second homer — and third of the season — landed in the second deck in left field in the eighth inning off a slider from reliver Matt Wotherspoon, who was making his major league debut. Gurriel tacked on two more runs with a double off Wotherspoon to extend the lead to 5-0.

Grichuk had put the Blue Jays up 2-0 in the third inning with his first solo shot, sending a fastball from Jimmy Yacabonis into the left-field seats.

The 27-year-old outfielder also doubled in the first inning and came around to score on a throwing error to Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz that was prompted by a Teoscar Hernandez single.

Grichuk, who had spent most of his Jays career in right field, served as Toronto’s centre-fielder Wednesday. Manager Charlie Montoyo said before the game that Grichuk would likely play most of this season there following the trade of Kevin Pillar to San Francisco on Tuesday.

The Jays’ bats, which had been mostly quiet over the first six games of the season, showed glimpses of potential early on.

Toronto had four hits the first time through the batting order Wednesday, compared to just one hit the first time through the lineup over the previous games combined. The Blue Jays had 10 hits total in the series finale while Baltimore had six.

NOTES: Shoemaker reached 500 career strikeouts with his third of the game — a swinging strike to Chris Davis in the third inning. … Attendance was 11,436. … Teenage tennis star Bianca Andreescu of nearby Mississauga, Ont., threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … The Blue Jays begin their first road trip of the season Thursday with a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians.

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