The Toronto Blue Jays bullpen stopped a threatening Baltimore Orioles rally to seal a late win in the battle for American League dominance.
The Toronto Blue Jays extended the Baltimore Orioles' losing streak to four as they took the initiative in the grapple for top spot in the American League by winning the first of their three-game series 6-5.
The Blue Jays were chasing from the get-go after a Mark Trumbo double got Hyun Soo Kim and Manny Machado home for the Orioles in the first, before solo homers from Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki put the hosts in the lead.
They stayed in the lead for the rest of the game, too, as another three runs in the third helped seal the win, alongside a sterling bullpen effort from the trio of Joaquin Benoit, Jason Grilli and Robert Osuna to halt a late Orioles rally.
Fellow AL heavyweights the Cleveland Indians were also among the wins as they beat the Oakland Athletics 5-3, with a four-run seventh crucial to their effort.
The Chicago Cubs continue to dominate the National League as they thrashed the Seattle Mariners 12-1 in an all-out offensive, while it rained runs in Detroit where the Tigers beat the Houston Astros 14-6.
The Colorado Rockies got up over the New York Mets 6-1, the Tampa Bay Rays trumped the New York Yankees 5-1, the St Louis Cardinals beat the Miami Marlins 11-6 and the Atlanta Braves had Gordon Beckham and Nick Markakis to thank for their 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Rougned Odor hit two solo homers to help the Texas Rangers beat the Kansas City Royals 8-3, the Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 and the Boston Red Sox were 6-2 winners over the Los Angeles Angels.
There was plenty of free baseball in Minnesota where the Twins needed 12 innings to beat the Chicago White Sox 2-1, while Los Angeles Dodgers were 9-7 winners over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Washington Nationals got up over the San Francisco Giants 4-1 and the Cincinnati Reds beat the San Diego Padres 6-0.
GUERRA A QUIET ACHIEVER
Milwaukee (45-56) may not be very good this season, but Junior Guerra is quietly putting together a solid season. He shut down the Pirates on Friday by allowing just one run in more than eight innings in the Brewerss victory. Guerra, who improved his record to 7-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.70, struck out five with one walk while scattering four hits.
COLLINS SPARKS TIGERS
The Tigers scored seven runs in the second inning in their win over the Astros. The big hit was a three-run homer by Tyler Collins. It was the fifth time this season the Tigers scored at least seven runs in an inning after having just one such inning last year.
ODOR ON FORM
Texas second baseman Odor hit two home runs in the Rangers' win over the Royals. Odor now has 21 home runs on the season to join Ian Kinsler and Alfonso Soriano as the only second basemen in franchise history to hit 20 home runs in a season.
ORIOLES OUT FOR REVENGE
In the best matchup of Saturday's action, Yovani Gallardo (3-2, 5.37 ERA) takes the mound for Baltimore while Toronto counters with J.A. Happ (13-3, 3.27). With just half a game separating the two atop the AL East, it is a pivotal late-July division matchup.