Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie throws to first base on a second-inning… (Reuters photo by Mike Cassese )
TORONTO — The Orioles got the strong outing they've been clamoring for as Jeremy Guthrie contained a Toronto Blue Jays' offense that had engaged in batting practice against their pitching over the previous two nights.
But Guthrie got no support from his defense, which committed an error that led to the only run against him, or from his offense, which made another soft-tossing left-hander look like an American League Cy Young Award candidate.
Fill-in Brad Mills, making just his third big league start and his first this season, pitched seven scoreless innings, and the Blue Jays beat the Orioles, 5-0, to complete a three-game sweep in front of an announced 17,041 at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays, who eliminated any drama by scoring four runs in the bottom of the eighth, three of them on Lyle Overbay's homer off Will Ohman, improved to 12-0 against the Orioles (31-70) this season, one shy of tying their most consecutive victories over one team in franchise history. In those 12 games, the Orioles have scored just 23 runs and been shut out three times and held to two runs or fewer 10 times.
Mills did the honors Wednesday night, allowing just two hits -- a leadoff single to Brian Roberts to start the game and Jake Fox's two-out single in the seventh -- and walking three en route to his first major league victory.
"We should have done a little bit better job of getting guys on and scoring runs," Orioles left fielder Corey Patterson said. "The radar gun probably went from 84 to 87 [mph]. [Mills] didn't really have anything that could blow it by you, or a big change of speed. Offensively, we just didn't get the job done tonight."
Guthrie took the undeserved loss, falling to 4-11, tied with teammate Brian Matusz for the most losses in the AL. He allowed one unearned run on six hits and an intentional walk over seven innings. In his past three starts, Guthrie has allowed just three earned runs, 19 hits and two walks over 20 1/3 innings.
"Getting outs, that's the big thing for me," Guthrie said. "I just am trying to be aggressive and get early outs. ÃÂ More importantly, I guess I'm just tired of giving up runs so I'm going to try to do my best to go out there and limit it."
His only problem Wednesday night was that his counterpart pitched better, or perhaps more appropriately, faced a much less potent offense.
The Blue Jays needed a starter because they had a doubleheader Sunday and did not want to bring Shaun Marcum back on just three days' rest. Mills, 25, was 7-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 16 starts for Triple-A Las Vegas when he was summoned to the big leagues for the first time this season.
Mills made two big league starts last season, both coming against the Philadelphia Phillies. In those two starts, he went 0-1 with a 14.09 ERA, allowing 12 earned runs; 14 hits, including four homers; and six walks in 7 2/3 innings.
Mills was expected to be sent back down to the minors after the game, but the decision to give him the start made perfect sense as the Orioles entered Wednesday night just 10-22 against left-handed starters this season.
None of the Orioles had faced Mills before Wednesday night, though their approach didn't reflect that. Back in the lineup after a day of rest, Roberts led off the game with a single, and then four of the next seven hitters hacked at the first pitch, with three of them making outs.
Miguel Tejada followed Roberts' single to right by bouncing into a double play, his 13th of the season. Luke Scott popped out on Mills' first pitch of the second, and Jake Fox fouled out for the final out of the inning. Mills needed only 23 pitches to put up three scoreless innings.
"It's something that, again, we've been through all season long," Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel said. "These guys have to make the adjustments. They have to do it. They know that what his bread and butter [is], and we just didn't get it done."
The Orioles got a second man in scoring position in the fourth when Nick Markakis drew a one-out walk and then stole second with two outs, his fourth swipe of the season. But he was stranded at second when Mills struck out Ty Wigginton, who made his return to the lineup after serving a two-game suspension.
The Orioles threatened again in the sixth after Mills drilled Tejada in the back with two outs. He then walked Markakis on five pitches, bringing the hot-hitting Scott to the plate. Scott grounded out to first base, continuing the Orioles' struggles with runners in scoring position.
Toronto, which never trailed in the series, took a 1-0 lead in the second. Vernon Wells singled up the middle and then took off on a 3-2 pitch with Adam Lind at the plate. Lind ripped Guthrie's full-count pitch right in the spot shortstop Cesar Izturis had vacated to cover second base on the steal attempt. Wells would have gotten to third anyway, but Patterson booted the ball and allowed him to score.
From there, Guthrie was in control, retiring seven straight Blue Jays at one point until Lind tripled off center fielder Adam Jones' glove in the fourth. Guthrie stranded Lind by retiring Aaron Hill on a groundout.
The Orioles right-hander was in a little trouble again in the sixth after Jose Bautista doubled on a ball that ate up Tejada at third base. Guthrie got a big second out, retiring Wells on a foul pop-up. The Orioles then intentionally walked Lind, a move that paid off when Hill grounded into a fielder's choice.