Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on a roll as Jays outlast Orioles

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Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went one better than his team-leading 16th home run on Wednesday night. 

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Guerrero knocked in the winning run in the 10th inning against the Baltimore Orioles, stroking a hit to left off reliever Felix Bautista (2-2) to score Bo Bichette from second base. 

That gave the Jays a 7-6 victory after the club let a four-run lead slip away.

Guerrero went 4-for-5, including his homer to left to lead off the fifth.

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With the win, the Jays returned to 12 games over .500. 

Baltimore didn’t score in its half of the 10th, despite getting runner Kyle Stowers to third from second on a sacrifice bunt. Adam Cimber (7-2) then struck out Ryan McKenna and got Cedric Mullins to ground out.

Jordan Romano pitched a three-up, three-down ninth. Jorge Lopez responded in kind for the visitors

Jays starter Jose Berrios was in line for his sixth win before the Orioles rallied in the eighth. 

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Berrios gave up two home runs in seven innings of work but otherwise was exceptional, allowing just three hits and striking out eight before giving way to Yimi Garcia.

In the eighth, Garcia started fine, getting the first two Orioles batters out, building optimism in the crowd of 19,961.

That feeling was gone in a flash, more or less. Mullins doubled and scored when Austin Hays came to the plate and doubled. 

The lead was gone, and the game tied 6-6, when Ryan Mountcastle hit his second homer of the evening to left field. Garcia was pulled, and Tim Mayza got Adley Rutschman to ground out to end the inning. 

A four-run third inning was vital for the Jays. The runs all came with two out, courtesy of a pair of two-run homers, first by Teoscar Hernandez and then by Matt Chapman.

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Both came off Orioles starter Bruce Zimmermann, who struggled through 4 2/3 innings of work. The Jays got to Zimmermann for 11 hits and six runs, all earned. 

In the fifth, Guerrero launched a shot to left to put Toronto up 6-2. Zimmermann was gone two batters later, with Bryan Baker coming on in relief. 

Berrios retired the first nine Orioles batters in order before getting into a spot of trouble in the fourth inning. With one out, Berrios nailed Hays on the backside with a fastball. 

After Mountcastle flied out to right, Rutschman sent the first pitch of his at-bat over the fence in centre for his first career home run. Those two runs cut into the Jays’ 5-0 lead, but Berrios rebounded rather nicely: He struck out Rougned Odor, still booed each time his name is announced more than six years after punching Jose Bautista in the face, and then quickly put the Orioles down in order in the fifth.

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Berrios hit a few bumps in the seventh. Mountcastle led off with a shot off the facing of the upper deck in left field. Rutschman then came up and doubled. 

Berrios dug in and shook it off, getting the next three Baltimore batters out.

The Jays gave Berrios an early lead, going up 1-0 in the first with two out. Guerrero singled and came around to score when Alejandro Kirk doubled. 

George Springer went 0-for-5, including three strikeouts, bringing his 24-game on-base streak to an end. It had been the longest active streak in the majors. 

CATCHING ON

Gabriel Moreno isn’t asking for much as he goes about making a strong first impression with the Jays.

“First, I just want to stay healthy for the entire season,” Moreno told the Toronto Sun with the help of translator Hector Lebron before the game. “I want to take advantage of the opportunity and I want to show everyone who Gabriel Moreno is.”

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That began in earnest on Tuesday night. After getting his feet wet in his first two games with the Jays last weekend in Detroit against the Tigers, Moreno excelled at the plate in his home debut, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs.

In doing so, the 22-year-old became the fourth catcher in team history to record a three-hit game within his first three games in the majors. Brian Milner (1978), Pat Borders (1988) and J.P. Arencibia also did it for Toronto. 

“You get the confidence going, some hits, couple of RBIs,” Moreno said. “I can be more relaxed. Maybe a little pressure comes off. I can keep working, keep following my plan. But definitely, it helps me out with my confidence (to have that early success).”

The fans got behind Moreno — who was not in the starting lineup on Wednesday — when he threw out Jorge Mateo in the second inning, and continued once Moreno started getting his bat on the ball. 

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“I feel very grateful for all the fans, the support I felt (Tuesday) night,” Moreno said. “I can tell all the fans that I will continue to work hard when I go out there, try to do my job and keep helping the team win.”

DIAMOND DUST 

Righthander Julian Merryweather has a moderate strain in his left oblique, an MRI revealed. Merryweather is week to week … Nate Pearson’s rehab with triple-A Buffalo continues to progress in the right direction. Pearson threw two innings on Tuesday night, reaching 99 mph. Eventually, Montoyo said, Pearson’s workload will increase to three innings per outing out of the bullpen.

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