Markakis, Tejada power O's sweep
Sluggers each drive in three; Trachsel solid for 5 1/3 frames
BALTIMORE -- You may not be able to judge a season by a streak, but you can certainly make comparisons. Baltimore's 7-3 win over Toronto on Sunday gave the Orioles their second four-game winning streak and their second three-game home sweep of the season. Last year, Baltimore was barely able to match those numbers.
The O's only had one four-game win streak last season, and they didn't achieve that until August. Baltimore racked up two three-game sweeps at home in 2006, but one came in May and the other one followed three months later. The Orioles (11-7) also reached four games over .500 on Sunday, something they hadn't done since last April.
Finally, the home sweep was Baltimore's first over Toronto since May 1994. All of those milestones came on one day, leaving the Orioles with a host of things to talk about after the game.
"I'm not doing to downplay it," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "We're trying to win as many games as we can. The fact that we were able to take advantage of these three games is big for us. We've got to win as many as we can and ride it as long as we can. So far, everything seems to be clicking for us right now."
"The bottom line is we're playing good baseball," added designated hitter Kevin Millar. "We're pitching right now, we're catching the ball [and] we're getting timely hitting. It's a different guy every night. ... We haven't solved the world's problems yet. We have a long season ahead of us, but we've just got to keep playing good baseball."
The latest win was mostly due to a strong day at the plate from the heart of Baltimore's batting order. Right fielder Nick Markakis delivered a two-run triple and a run-scoring single, and cleanup hitter Miguel Tejada drove in three runs with a pair of key singles. All of that support went to starter Steve Trachsel, who worked into the sixth inning.
"Our guys are going out there and busting their butts every day," Markakis said. "Our pitchers are doing a great job keeping us in there, and our bullpen is doing an outstanding job keeping us right in the game in the late innings and giving us a chance to score more runs. Hopefully, we stick to that plan and carry on."
"Nicky and Miggy really came up big for us," said Perlozzo, summing up his team's offense. "They swung the bat and knocked some runs in, and that's what we expect them to do. It was a great effort on their part."
Toronto (8-10) seemed to control the early innings, hitting a number of long and loud outs off Trachsel. Second baseman Aaron Hill broke the double shutout with a homer over the left-field fence, but Trachsel never gave up another run. The veteran escaped a jam in the fourth, when he struck out Hill with the potential tying run on base.
|"Our pitchers are doing a great job keeping us in there, and our bullpen is doing an outstanding job keeping us right in the game in the late innings and giving us a chance to score more runs. Hopefully, we stick to that plan and carry on."|
|-- Nick Markakis|
Baltimore's bullpen bailed out Trachsel in the sixth, when he left with one out and two runners on base. The Orioles went to reliever Chad Bradford, who got Hill to hit into a threat-ending 6-4-3 double play.
"He knows how to pitch. He's a veteran guy," Perlozzo said of Trachsel. "Pitching is all about keeping the hitters' timing off. With his assortment of pitches -- when he's right -- he can do that."
Toronto starter Gustavo Chacin threw three perfect innings before running into trouble in the fourth. Chacin (2-1) gave up a leadoff single and walked another batter in that rally, and Markakis drove them both home with a shot off the top of the fence in left-center. Tejada made it a 3-1 game with a clean single, and the game never got any closer.
"I know after we came in in the fourth," Perlozzo said, "the dugout came alive a little bit and said, 'Come on, second time around, let's go get him.' [Chacin] left some balls out over the plate and we were able to take advantage of it."
Baltimore's next multirun rally came in the fifth inning, and it gave the home team a six-run lead. Left fielder Jay Payton, who had three hits, ignited the rally with a one-out single. One walk later, Markakis doubled in a run and wound up scoring on another hit by Tejada. Tejada, like Payton, finished with three hits.
The Blue Jays made things interesting with two runs in the ninth inning, but Brian Burres stranded two runners on second base to end the threat and the game. With that result, the Orioles have won eight of their last nine games and are 11-4 after starting the season in an 0-3 hole.
"The team's been playing great. I just wanted to come in, try to be a part of it and keep winning," said Payton, who made his first start after missing three weeks with a sore left hamstring. "I was kind of shocked to be leading off, but Sammy knew what he was doing putting me up there, I guess. It worked out pretty well for us."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.