BALTIMORE -- The Blue Jays appeared on the verge of another heartbreaking loss Wednesday afternoon until Rajai Davis stepped in to save the day.
Toronto's outfielder came up with one of the biggest plays of the year on a game-saving throw in the bottom of the 10th inning to help his club avoid a sweep in Baltimore.
Davis threw a strike from left field to keep the game going, and an inning later Maicer Izturis drew a bases-loaded walk as the Blue Jays barely escape with a 6-5 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.
"It would have been a tough game to lose, no question about it," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, whose team led 5-2 earlier in the game. "It would have been easy to shut it down and quit competing. But they hung in there, we got a big, big win and we needed it."
The dramatic play at home came just a couple of minutes after the Blue Jays appeared headed for a disaster. With one out and one on, Baltimore's Adam Jones hit a high popup to right field that appeared as though it would be out No. 2.
Jose Bautista initially was able to track it, but eventually lost the ball in the sky. He spotted it again at the last moment but was unable to make a diving catch, and as a result the potential game-winning run moved into scoring position.
Two batters later, J.J. Hardy hit a two-out single that one-hopped into left field. Davis charged the ball, fielded it cleanly and then threw a strike on the fly to catcher J.P. Arencibia. The ball beat Baltimore's Manny Machado to the plate by a couple of feet and Arencibia applied the tag to keep the game going and give the Blue Jays renewed hope.
Every outfielder has been through a similar situation as Bautista, and Davis was just relieved after the game that he was able to pick up his teammate when he needed it the most.
"That's what it takes," Davis said. "It takes all of us out there on the field, it takes every one of us pitching [in] to help us win games. We have to pick each other up whenever that happens, and I'm just fortunate enough to get that opportunity."
The Blue Jays capitalized on Davis' throw in the following inning. Arencibia and Munenori Kawasaki started the rally with a pair of two-out singles before third baseman Brett Lawrie was hit by a fastball from Orioles closer Jim Johnson to load the bases.
Johnson's erratic control then became even more apparent during the next at-bat when he walked the light-hitting Maicer Izturis on four consecutive pitches that weren't even close to the strike zone.
It was a rare misstep by Johnson, who entered the game having not surrendered an earned run in 11 innings this year. He also had walked just three batters this season and 15 in 68 2/3 innings last season.
"I just had a hard time throwing a strike," Johnson said as the Orioles' streak of consecutive victories in extra-inning games was snapped at 17. "Kind of lost feel, and obviously that's a terrible way to lose a game."
Toronto's offense broke out of its prolonged slump for at least one game after receiving homers from Arencibia, Davis, Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion through the first six innings.
Arencibia's two-run shot in the second was a continuation of what has been a hot start to his season. While most of the Blue Jays' lineup has struggled, it has been Arencibia carrying the bulk of the load, at least when it comes to power. He leads the American League with eight home runs while also recording 15 RBIs and 14 extra-base hits in 21 games.
Right-hander Josh Stinson was charged with all five runs on five hits and one walk while striking out three. It marked just the fourth time in the past 12 games the Blue Jays have managed to score more than three runs.
During that same stretch, the club has been plagued by a series of defensive miscues, and while the win could help right the ship, Arencibia wasn't about to get too carried away during the aftermath.
"We keep on saying how much a win can do for us, but I think we have to clean up our game," Arencibia said. "There have been some defensive miscues. The pitching threw great this series and we didn't really back them up with a ton of runs, except for today.
"Sometimes you have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'Hey, we have to fix some things and get that done.'"
The early run production initially made it appear as though the Blue Jays were headed toward an easy victory. Right-hander Brandon Morrow carried a 5-2 lead into the seventh before he allowed two of the first three batters he faced to reach base.
Left-hander Aaron Loup entered and promptly surrendered a pair of hits, with the big blow coming on a two-strike triple by Machado that tied the game at 5.
That put the club dangerously close to dropping six games below .500 on the eve of a four-game series in New York against the Yankees. But instead the win was salvaged by a combination of Davis' throw and increased patience at the plate.
The Blue Jays now hope that it also represents a reversal of fortune and a sign of things to come.
"That shows the guys in here aren't quitting," Morrow said. "They had a lot of momentum going into the end of the game after tying it in the seventh. We came up with a couple of really good defensive plays. ... They played hard all game and it paid off."