TORONTO (AP) Brandon Belt reached base three times and scored twice and the Toronto Blue Jays snapped a five-game home losing streak against Baltimore, beating the American League-leading Orioles 4-1 on Wednesday night.
Paul DeJong made his Toronto debut at shortstop as the Blue Jays placed All-Star and AL batting leader Bo Bichette on the 10-day injured list because of right patellar tendonitis.
Left-hander Yusei Kikuchi pitched six innings to win back-to-back starts. Kikuchi (9-3) allowed one run and six hits. He hadn’t won consecutive outings since a three-start winning streak in April.
“All my pitches were working,” Kikuchi said through a translator. “From the get-go I was thinking just give my all.”
Yimi García pitched the seventh inning and Jordan Hicks worked the eighth for Toronto. Erik Swanson finished for his third save in four chances, picking off rookie Jordan Westburg at first base for the final out.
“Their pitching was really good tonight,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Kikuchi was outstanding and their bullpen guys were lights out. We had a tough time scoring.”
Baltimore lost for the first time in four games but maintained its 1 1/2-game lead over Tampa Bay in the AL East. The Yankees beat the Rays 7-2.
Toronto came in 1-7 against the Orioles.
“For us to get a win against them, whether it’s home or away, is big, especially at this point in the year,” Blue Jays outfielder George Springer said.
Springer spiked his bat after grounding out to the mound in the second, extending his hitless to 35 at-bats.
The four-time All-Star snapped his slump and drove in the opening run of the game with a bloop single to center in the fourth. Springer raised his arms in celebration as he reached first base.
“That was happiness, genuine happiness,” Springer said. “Obviously, it’s no secret it’s been a hard stretch for me.”
Baltimore tied it on Adley Rutschman’s RBI single in the fifth. Rutschman beat out an infield hit when Kikuchi didn’t cover first base.
The Blue Jays broke a 1-1 tie with a three-run sixth that featured more bruises than base hits.
Grayson Rodriguez (2-3) left after consecutive one-out walks to Belt and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Shintaro Fujinami walked Springer on four pitches to load the bases, then forced home a run when his first pitch hit Matt Chapman in the back.
Fujinami got ahead 0-2 on Danny Jansen before hitting the Blue Jays catcher on the arm to force in another run, and Springer scored when shortstop Jorge Mateo made an error on Daulton Varshi’s grounder.
“We’ve been playing such good baseball,” Hyde said. “Tonight wasn’t our best.”
Speaking through a translator, Fujinami said the pressure of the situation got him out of rhythm.
“I was trying to do too much,” Fujinami said. “I wanted to get an out so bad and I was kind of rushing. My slide step was too quick and my timing was a little off.”
Rodriguez allowed three runs and two hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out six in his fourth start since returning from a stint at Triple-A.
“He’s making big strides,” Hyde said. “Happy with where he’s at.”
Bichette’s IL stint is retroactive to Tuesday. He left Monday in the third when he jammed his knee while running the bases.
Orioles: To make room for Flaherty, Baltimore optioned RHP Bryan Baker to Triple-A Norfolk.
Blue Jays: Toronto recalled RHP Thomas Hatch from Triple-A Buffalo and optioned RHP Nate Pearson to the Bisons.
NEW KING FELIX?
Baltimore’s Félix Bautista was named AL Reliever of the Month for July, his third monthly award this season. Bautista had eight saves and 25 strikeouts over 14 innings in 11 scoreless appearances last month. Bautista’s only July blemish? He blew the save and took the loss for the AL in the All-Star Game.
Right-hander Jack Flaherty will make his first start for Baltimore on Thursday in the series finale. Acquired from St. Louis on Tuesday, Flaherty was 7-6 with a 4.43 ERA for the Cardinals, who are in last place in the NL Central. Former Orioles RHP Kevin Gausman (8-5, 3.10 ERA) will start for Toronto.
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