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TOR@BAL: Alvarez hurls seven innings of two-run ball

BALTIMORE -- A dejected looking Eric Thames sat motionless in the Blue Jays' clubhouse for what seemed like an eternity on Tuesday night.

Toronto's left fielder couldn't help but take the Blue Jays' first loss in five games to heart. A mishap in the outfield -- on what was a very difficult play -- was the ultimate cause for Thames' noticeable frustration, but a tough start to the season has also taken its toll.

Thames had a deep fly ball bounce off his glove and over the wall for a home run while right-hander Henderson Alvarez experienced more than his fair share of bad luck in a 2-1 loss to the Orioles on Tuesday night at Camden Yards.

"It was going to hit the top of the wall, I reached up to catch it and it hit off my glove and went into the seats," Thames said after taking a few minutes to collect his thoughts before speaking with reporters. "It's as simple as that.

"It all happened so fast. It hit my glove and then I heard the crowd, so I looked up and saw it was in the seats, and of course, [I felt] intense anger."

The play occurred in the fourth inning with the score tied at 1. Baltimore's Matt Wieters sent a 3-1 offering from Alvarez toward the wall in left field. Thames initially broke back toward the warning track in straight-away left before realizing the ball was going to the corner, in part because of the gusty wind at Camden Yards.

Thames then quickly ran toward the corner and attempted to make a leaping catch at the wall. His glove appeared to graze the top of the fence and his body crashed into the wall at the exact same time he was trying to make the catch.

The end result was the ball bouncing off Thames' glove and into the seats, much to the delight of the 11,058 fans in attendance. Wieters' solo homer -- his sixth of the year -- also resulted in what proved to be the game-winning run.

"Off the bat, I thought it was going to have a little bit more backspin than it did, because Wieters hits the ball with a lot of backspin," Thames said. "I broke back, saw it tailing away and it went right into that corner in left field. Like I said, it hit off my glove."

Thames appeared to take the loss surprisingly hard as he sat down and faced his locker for a long period of time after the game. Even the fact that Thames' provided the club's only run of the game with a solo homer in the third inning did little to lift his spirits.

Some of that frustration could stem from his overall production at the plate. Tuesday night's homer was his first since Sept. 22 and just his third extra-base hit of the year, but he does possess a .273 average in 15 games this season.

Still, after beating out Travis Snider for the starting job in left field during Spring Training, it's clear that Thames expects more of himself.

"It has been a pretty rough month for myself," Thames said. "I'm lucky that I'm around a great bunch of guys and they're able to pick me up. I'm still at it, stuff happens in baseball, so it's going to be good the rest of the way."

The lack of overall run support meant that Alvarez had his string of bad luck continue, despite another impressive outing on the mound. Toronto's right-hander allowed just two runs on five hits and two walks, but came away with the tough loss.

Alvarez's only real problematic inning occurred in the first, when the young Venezuelan allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base. Alvarez was able to minimize the damage, though, by inducing a double play that resulted in a run, but helped the Blue Jays escape the inning without any more damage.

That was all Alvarez would surrender, with the exception of Wieter's homer in the fourth. The 22-year-old Alvarez has still won just one game in his Major League career, despite having thrown nine quality starts in 14 outings.

"I just go out knowing that I have to do my part," Alvarez said when asked if the lack of wins was starting to become frustrating. "I feel like I did my part, it's a team game and whatever happens after that is out of my hands."

Thames' homer was the only bright spot at the plate for the Blue Jays. Toronto failed to put a runner in scoring position at any point in the game, despite having seven runners on base. That led to right-hander Tommy Hunter allowing just one run in six innings while the Orioles' bullpen then combined for three scoreless frames in the win.

"We passed it around tonight [in the bullpen], and everybody did the job they were, I thought, most capable of doing," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Their lineup is good all the way through. Alvarez was really good, broke out the cutter tonight that we hadn't seen. It's tough to make the adjustment to."

The loss to Baltimore snapped the Blue Jays' four-game winning streak. Toronto is now just 1-3 against the Orioles this season but it has still won nine of its past 15 games against Baltimore dating back to last season.

"I think we threw the ball well, at the same time a 2-1 game, you're going to fully anticipate just by the score that guys from the mound controlled the tempo and had complete command of the game and I think tonight they did," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.

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