TORONTO (AP) -- Stacked with right-handed sluggers, the Toronto Blue Jays have feasted on left-handed pitching this season. Saturday was no different.
Frank Thomas hit his 509th career home run, one of a club-record seven consecutive hits to begin the game against left-hander Kurt Birkins, and the Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-3."We said last night, they hit left-handers pretty good if you don't locate," Orioles interim manager Tom Treblehorn said. "We seemed to locate in spots that were conducive to their swings."Toronto has hit .300 against left-handers this season, tied with Seattle for the best mark in the major leagues. The Mariners were scheduled to face Tampa Bay left-hander Scott Kazmir on Saturday night.Toronto won for just the second time in eight games, while Baltimore lost for the 19th time in 24 games. The eight runs were the most Toronto had scored in a single game since a 13-10 loss at Boston on Sept. 3."It was nice to see everybody come together," second baseman Aaron Hill said. "It's been a while since we've done it. It was fun."Backed by a six-run first, Roy Halladay worked seven strong innings to win for the first time in six starts. Halladay (15-7) allowed one run and five hits, walked two and struck out two. His last win came Aug. 14 against the Los Angeles Angels."You know when you spot the Doc that many runs that it's going to be tough," Treblehorn said.Halladay didn't allow the winless streak to dampen his confidence."That's how the game is sometimes," Halladay said. "You just kind of hang in there, don't get carried away and get too frustrated with runs like that."It was a miserable afternoon for Birkins, who didn't retire any of the six batters he faced."I couldn't hit a spot," Birkins said. "It was either a ball or right down the middle with every one of my pitches. A lineup like this, they're not going to let those pitches go and when they hit it, it's going to go far."Making just his second major league start, Birkins (1-2) gave up back-to-back singles to Vernon Wells and Reed Johnson before Alex Rios hit a two-run double. Thomas followed with a two-run homer, Aaron Hill singled and Matt Stairs doubled to right, sending Hill to third.Right-hander Rob Bell replaced Birkins and gave up a two-run single to Gregg Zaun, who was thrown out trying to advance to second. The inning ended when Hector Luna and John McDonald flied out."When the buzzsaw starts buzzing, it's hard to pick one tooth out to keep from cutting you," Treblehorn said. "They've got that kind of club. They can string some things together."The seven hits to begin the game broke Toronto's previous mark of five, set May 8, 1987, at Texas. The major league record for consecutive hits to begin a game is eight.It's the second time this season Toronto has scored six runs in the first -- they last did it Aug. 4 against Texas. Toronto's record for first-inning runs is seven.The Blue Jays added two runs in the seventh when Nick Markakis lost Luna's sinking line drive in the lights, allowing Hill and Zaun to score."He hung with it as long as he could and didn't see it at the end," Treblehorn said.Jason Frasor pitched to three batters in the eighth before Scott Downs got two outs. Casey Janssen worked the final 1 1/3 innings for the Blue Jays.Baltimore's first run came in the fourth when Markakis walked and scored on Aubrey Huff's double.Huff matched a career-high with four hits, collecting two singles and two doubles."Against a guy like [Halladay], you either hit him or you don't," Huff said.The Orioles added two more in the eighth on back-to-back doubles by J.R. House and Freddie Bynum and an RBI grounder from Markakis.
Thomas is two homers away from tying Mel Ott (511) for 20th place on baseball's career list. ... Orioles closer Danys Baez has a partial tear in his right elbow and will likely miss the rest of the season. Orioles manager Dave Trembley said Baez will seek a second opinion after an MRI exam Friday revealed the injury. ... Trembley served the final game of a three-game suspension for an animated tirade near second base after he was ejected from Wednesday's 18-6 loss to the Angels.