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TOR@BAL: Jones pounds a go-ahead homer in the eighth

BALTIMORE -- There were several dramatic moments in Thursday's game. Adam Jones and Chris Davis hit key homers in the eighth. Ryan Flaherty got his first Major League RBI and later his first career hit -- on a bunt meant to be a sacrifice that found a hole.

But after the Orioles wrapped up a sweep of their three-game series against Blue Jays with a 5-2 victory before 13,725 at Camden Yards, a lot of the discussion focused on a pitcher who didn't get a decision in Baltimore's fourth consecutive victory.

O's starter Brian Matusz turned in his best effort in a long time. He allowed two runs -- both unearned -- on four hits in six innings. He came into the game with an 0-3 record and a 12-game losing streak, and this was his first quality start since his last start back in 2010.

"I felt good my last start against the Angels, just wasn't exactly putting it together," Matusz said. "I was able to go out there with a little bit of confidence today. I've been working real hard in the weight room and with [pitching coach] Rick Adair and ... got myself into a groove."

Matusz's troubles in 2011 puzzled just about everyone. He went from being one of the better young left-handers to a rather ineffective one. Injury problems kept him off the mound until June, and Matusz never found a groove and finished a 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA.

But he's been doing better in 2012. He seemed to have one bad inning or stretch in his first three starts -- but not in this game, when the left-hander pitched aggressively from the start.

Matusz didn't have much trouble in the first four innings. J.P. Arencibia doubled with two outs in the fifth before Matusz retired Omar Vizquel on a groundout. The Jays then scored two runs in the sixth when first baseman Nick Johnson couldn't handle an Eric Thames grounder that went into the right-field corner.

"I just wish we could have got him a 'W,'" Jones said. "He went out there and threw six very, very, very good innings. He was pounding the strike zone."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said what makes him happy about Matusz is that the left-hander's been improving with each outing -- and this was his best by far.

"He pitches like that, he's going to get all the wins he wants," Showalter said.

The Orioles (12-7) took a 1-0 lead on Flaherty's sacrifice fly in the fifth for that first big-league RBI. Flaherty later got that first Major League hit in the seventh. Trying to lay down a sacrifice bunt, Flaherty instead put down a perfect bunt that no Blue Jay could get as it rolled between the mound and first. He later added a single to finish the night 2-for-3.

Johnson's two-run, three-base error gave the Jays (10-9) a 2-1 lead in the sixth. The Orioles tied it in the bottom of the inning when Nick Markakis scored on shortstop Yunel Escobar's throwing error.

The game remained tied until the eighth when Jones homered on the first pitch of the inning from Casey Janssen. Davis came up later in the inning and belted a two-run homer off Darren Oliver for a 5-2 lead.

Darren O'Day (2-0) got the Orioles to the ninth with two perfect innings in relief of Matusz. Luis Ayala came on and closed it for his first save since Sept. 23, 2008, with the Mets. Pedro Strop saved the first two games of the series as the Orioles needed to work without closer Jim Johnson, who's in the hospital with an illness.

The O's have beaten Toronto in five of six games this season after the Jays held a 12-6 edge in last year's series. Baltimore's pitchers have handled the Jays throughout the first six games this year, holding them to just three runs in this three-game sweep.

"I know their pitchers are really hitting their spots, and they're getting us to swing at their pitch." said Toronto slugger Jose Bautista. "From what we played them last year and how we played them this year, they've beat us more than we've beaten them."

And Matusz certainly helped that happen in this game. Comments