Orioles grab share of AL East lead with win

Associated Press Modified: September 4, 2012 at 10:35 pm •  Published: September 4, 2012
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TORONTO (AP) — This is unfamiliar territory for the Baltimore Orioles, and they're just trying to roll with it.

Mark Reynolds hit a three-run homer, Zach Britton pitched seven innings to win his fourth straight start and the Orioles moved into a first-place tie in the AL East with a 12-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

Baltimore's third consecutive victory coupled with the Yankees' loss at Tampa Bay gave the Orioles a share of first place in September for the first time since 1997, the last time they won the division and advanced to the playoffs.

"We're just having a good time and we're not putting pressure on ourselves," Reynolds said. "Everybody knows the situation we're in but we're just taking it day by day and having fun."

The Orioles also lead the AL wild-card chase, with the Rays 1½ games back in the division and wild-card standings.

"It's a big deal, obviously, but there's a lot of games left," Reynolds said. "Us, the Yankees and the Rays are all right there. Oakland is having a good run right now. We can't take anything for granted."

Staying in the moment is something Orioles manager Buck Showalter has been preaching to his team.

"We've got too many bridges to cross, too many things to do, to accomplish the goal everybody had coming out of spring training," Showalter said.

Reynolds went 3 for 4 with four RBIs as the Orioles pounded out a season-high 18 hits.

Recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to face the Blue Jays, Britton (5-1) allowed four hits and improved to 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA in four starts since his last loss on Aug. 1 against New York. The left-hander struck out eight and walked two, one intentional.

"He's really in a good place right now," Showalter said. "He was pretty relentless tonight, he kept pounding the zone."

Kevin Gregg worked the eighth and Zach Phillips finished for the Orioles, who have won 21 of 29.

"We're not looking too far ahead," Britton said. "We're focusing on the moment."

Struggling Toronto has dropped four straight and was held scoreless for the second straight game, the first time that's happened since May 2008. The crowd of 13,556 was the Blue Jays' smallest of the season.

Reynolds hit his 17th homer off Carlos Villanueva in the fifth. It also was his fifth homer in five games.

"I'm not even thinking," Reynolds said of his approach at the plate. "I'm just going out, seeing the ball and hitting it."

Nate McLouth added a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and the Orioles pulled away with a three-run seventh. Robert Andino chased Villanueva with a sacrifice fly, Aaron Loup's balk scored Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy singled in Nick Markakis.

Villanueva (7-5) lost for the fifth time in seven starts, allowing a season-high six runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings.

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