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TOR@BAL: Johnson hurls six innings of two-run ball

The Orioles dropped Sunday's series finale to the Red Sox, but Buck Showalter's squad will have an opportunity to win twice on Monday to make up some ground in the American League East race.

Baltimore, which trails New York by one game, will host Toronto for a doubleheader on Monday to make up a late-August rainout. The Orioles will have a chance to shave the Yankees' division lead. Should they sweep the twin bill, they'll gain at least a half-game in the standings. New York opens a three-game series in Minnesota.

Despite Sunday's loss, the Orioles have won nine of their last 12 and still maintain a firm grip on one of the two AL Wild Card spots.

"I think in baseball, I don't want to say you have to have a little luck, but you have to have a little mojo on your side," said designated hitter Jim Thome. "You have to be talented. Our bullpen has done a tremendous job, and so have our starters. You can't forget the offense, either. When you play extra innings, you manufacture runs. That's one thing we've done really well."

The Blue Jays welcome the opportunity to play so many games against contenders, as they get a feel for the wealth of young players on their roster. This month, 19 of Toronto's 28 games are against the Rays, Yankees and Orioles, all vying for either the division crown or a Wild Card spot.

"In the case of our schedule this month, everybody we've played has been a contender," manager John Farrell said. "As we're evaluating our hitters, it's not like we're seeing guys come out of Double-A and start against us. We're seeing their regular turn in the rotation.

"We're seeing playoff intensity thrown at us. They have done a solid job in competing against that and competing with it. The fact is, they are getting valuable repetition and experience during this month."

In the first tilt, Steve Johnson (3-0, 1.91 ERA) will make his first start for Baltimore since Aug. 25. He'll be opposed by Toronto southpaw Henderson Alvarez (9-13, 4.87 ERA). Blue Jays lefty Ricky Romero (8-14, 5.72 ERA) will look to halt a 13-game slide in the nightcap. Baltimore will counter with Wei-Yin Chen (12-9, 3.98 ERA).

Blue Jays: Injured hurlers rehabbing together
• Pitchers Kyle Drabek, Luis Perez and Drew Hutchison all underwent Tommy John surgery this year. The trio has been working out together.

Hutchison, who has been instructed not to throw until January, has no timetable for his eventual return next season.

Orioles: Hunter's heat impresses
• Tommy Hunter touched triple digits with his fastball during a relief appearance in Saturday's win in Boston.

• Second baseman Robert Andino started on Sunday following clearance from the Baltimore medical staff. He sat out Saturday's affair after being struck in the helmet by a fastball on Friday night. He struck out in all three at-bats on Sunday.

Worth noting:
• The Orioles have won nine of 14 meetings with the Blue Jays this season. Comments