Chris Tillman looked like a sure 17-game winner for six innings. Tillman breezed through six, allowing just two first inning runs.
In the seventh, Toronto’s Colby Rasmus hit a two-run home run, and that was the difference in the Orioles’ 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Saturday.
Every loss is important in the last few weeks of the season, but with Tillman, their best pitcher, taking the loss, it was even worse.
The Orioles (78-70) needed every win against Toronto (67-80), the only non-contending team they play in the season’s final weeks. After the loss, they’re three games behind Tampa Bay, which plays at Minnesota on Saturday night, for the second Wild Card.
With a 3-2 lead heading the seventh, Moises Sierra walked leading off, and then Rasmus hit his second home run in as many nights, his 20th of the season, and the Orioles trailed.
Tillman (16-6) allowed four runs on six hits in eight innings, walking two and striking out four. It was the first complete game of his career.
Jeremy Jeffress (1-0) worked the seventh for the win. Aaron Loup, Neil Wagner and Casey Janssen worked the eighth and ninth. Janssen recorded his 30th save.
Esmil Rogers started and pitched six innings. He allowed three runs on five hits, walked two and struck out seven.
The Orioles scored a run in the first on doubles by Manny Machado and Chris Davis. It was Machado’s 50th double. It’s only the fifth time an Oriole has had 50. Brian Roberts did it three times, and Miguel Tejada once.
Toronto took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first when Sierra’s double scored Jose Reyes and Adam Lind.
Machado’s 14th home run tied the score in the fourth, and Matt Wieters’ RBI single in the fourth inning gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead.
In the eighth, Nick Markakis walked and J.J. Hardy singled with two outs, but Wagner struck Wieters out for the third out.
Nate McLouth singled with two outs in the ninth, but Machado grounded out on the first pitch for the last out.
NOTES: Dan Johnson, whose contract was purchased from Norfolk on Friday, struck out in the ninth inning in his first at-bat with the Orioles.
-Miguel Gonzalez (9-7, 4.00) faces Mark Buehrle (11-8, 4.18) on Sunday.