Alex Rios homers as Blue Jays complete three-game sweep of Orioles

Canadian Scott Richmond is providing a much-needed measure of stability in the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation behind ace Roy Halladay.

TORONTO - Canadian Scott Richmond is providing a much-needed measure of stability in the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation behind ace Roy Halladay.

The native of North Vancouver, B.C., threw seven strong innings and was backed by home runs from Vernon Wells and Alex Rios in a 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday afternoon.

Rios hit the game-winner in the fifth inning, his second of the season, sending the Blue Jays (18-9) to a three-game sweep of the Orioles (9-16), who have lost six in a row and nine of their past 11.

"He's stepped it up," Blue Jays catcher Rod Barajas said of Richmond. "He was battling for a No. 5 job coming out of spring training. Every single time he goes out there now he improves.

"He's not satisfied with being that No. 5 guy. Right now he's our No. 2 guy, not because everybody is hurt, but because that's how he's pitching."

Richmond (4-0) allowed three runs, two earned, five hits and two walks while striking out six and has yet to allow more than three runs in his 10 major-league starts.

His strong work, coming with Jesse Litsch and Ricky Romero on the disabled list while others in the rotation have been inconsistent, has been invaluable.

"Pleasantly surprised is a great way to put it," Richmond said of his success. "From a rough spring to a young rotation . . . I'm happy to be contributing.

"I'm happy I'm pitching well, I'm so focused out there."

Richmond's earned-run average dropped to 2.67 and he made few mistakes after surrendering Luke Scott's two-run shot in the second that tied the game 2-2.

"He moved the ball around, changed speeds, had a big zone to work with, he took advantage of it," said Scott.

"As hitters we make a living hitting balls that are up in the zone, out over the plate, and there wasn't really that much today."

Jesse Carlson took over from Richmond in the eighth inning and Scott Downs, who is the closer with B.J. Ryan on the disabled list, pitched the ninth for his third save.

The Blue Jays took a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Jeremy Guthrie (2-2) when Wells ripped his fourth homer of the after Rios hit a two-out double.

They regained the lead on two-out doubles by Lyle Overbay and Barajas in the fourth. The Orioles tied it 3-3 in the top of the fifth inning on an unearned run as Barajas threw the ball wildly to first on Nick Markakis's infield single, a dribbler in front of the plate and Cesar Izturis scored from second.

"It was just a bad decision on my part," Barajas said. "I had no chance to make the out. . . . There was no need for me to throw the ball. I should have just held on to it."

But Rios' second homer of the season undid that mistake and Richmond and the bullpen took care of the rest.

"He has the ability to throw his breaking ball and changeup behind in count. It's hard to stay comfortable," Barajas said of Richmond. "It's hard to go up there and sit on a pitch when the guy has four pitches he can throw over the plate for a strike."

Orioles manager Dave Trembley was ejected from the game in the middle of the fifth inning after Aubrey Huff was upset with plate umpire Chris Tiller following a strike out to end the inning.

"I didn't argue balls and strikes," Trembley said. "I was trying to keep Huff in the game. He said it was an equipment violation which I understand and then he said don't come out here and argue balls and strikes.

"And I turned around and went back in the dugout."

Then he learned he was thrown out, and went back out to get his money's worth. It was his second ejection of the season and the eighth of his career.

Before the game, the Orioles put relief pitcher Dennis Sarfate on the disabled list with a circulatory problem in his right middle finger and called up reliever Bob McCrory from triple-A Norfolk. Sarfate is scheduled to have an angiogram in Baltimore on Monday.

Notes: The Blue Jays are home Monday to the Cleveland Indians and will start Brian Tallet (1-1, 6.45 earned-run average) against Fausto Carmona (1-3, 6.28 ERA). ... On Tuesday afternoon, the Blue Jays will start Brett Cecil who will make his major-league debut against Anthony Reyes (1-0, 7.58 ERA).

 
 
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