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Orioles sweep of Blue Jays thwarted by Marco Estrada's career-high strikeouts

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Orioles sweep of Blue Jays thwarted by Marco Estrada's career-high strikeouts

BALTIMORE (AP) -- An error, a three-run homer and Marco Estrada provided the Toronto Blue Jays with a feel-good victory against the Baltimore Orioles.

Estrada matched his career high with 12 strikeouts, Devon Travis took care of the offense and Toronto averted a three-game sweep with a 3-1 win on Sunday.

Travis connected in the first inning off Wade Miley (1-2) following a two-out error and a single. Those three unearned runs turned out to be enough to provide last-place Toronto with its second victory in nine games against the Orioles this season.

"I think it's huge, especially where we're at," manager John Gibbons said. "It's been a tough go."

Estrada (3-2) allowed one run, five hits and a walk over 7 2/3 innings. His only other 12-strikeout game came against Cincinnati on June 26, 2012.

"Great lineup," the right-hander said. "You have to make pitches because any one of them can hit it out, especially in this ballpark."

Estrada is 5-1 against Baltimore, including 1-0 with a 1.33 ERA in three starts this year.

"He's always pitched so well against this team," Gibbons said. "This is maybe the toughest ballpark to pitch in especially a day game when it's warm. The ball flies."

Baltimore's Adam Jones hit a solo shot in the fourth inning, but that was the extent of the damage against Estrada.

Joe Smith struck out Chris Davis with two on in the eighth, and Roberto Osuna got three outs for his sixth save in nine chances.

Toronto has been trying for weeks to recover from a 2-11 start. The Jays were starting to gather a bit of momentum before dropping a pair of two-run games -- the first in extra innings -- to start this series.

"When you lose the first two games obviously you want to stop that," Estrada said. "You don't want to get swept anywhere. Just to win a ballgame, is all."

Jones went 3 for 4, but the Orioles fell to 15-4 at home.

Miley gave up three runs, none of them earned, and six hits over seven innings. The left-hander hasn't won since April 14.

"He gave us a great chance to win today," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We just couldn't do anything against Estrada."

Baltimore committed a season-high three errors. The most costly miscue was the first-inning grounder up the middle botched by second baseman Jonathan Schoop, which set up Travis' drive into the left-field seats.

"Tough play," Showalter said. "You know what happens sometimes? When guys are in shifts ... it's just a different look. Different angles, different hops, different sight lines."

Travis went 2 for 4, his sixth multihit game in seven starts. He is 15 for 28 during that span, lifting his batting average 72 points to .239.

"I'm just trying to stick with the approach and trusting the process," Travis said.

RECORD-TYING SHOT

Jones' home run was his 124th home run at Camden Yards, tying Rafael Palmeiro for the most in the history of the ballpark.

"It's impressive," Showalter said. "Think about all the people who have played here in the last 26 years."

TOUGH LOSS

Miley was as sharp as he's been all season, but it wasn't good enough.

"Made one mistake early on and Travis did a good job, put a pretty good swing on that ball," he said.

It was the second time in his career he took a loss without allowing an earned run. It also happened in 2012, when he was with Arizona against Pittsburgh.

ROSTER MOVE

The Orioles optioned RHP Miguel Castro to Double-A Bowie after the game.

CAN'T SIT NOW

Orioles catcher Welington Castillo received his fourth career start as a designated hitter after delivering three homers with seven RBIs in his previous two games. Showalter said: "It's hard to keep him out of the lineup right now." Perhaps he should have: Castillo went 0 for 4.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Placed INF Ryan Flaherty on the 10-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. "It could very possibly be longer than that," Showalter said. Baltimore recalled INF Paul Janish from Triple-A Norfolk.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: After taking Monday off, Toronto calls on right-hander Joe Biagini (1-2, 3.41 ERA) in the opener of a two-game series in Milwaukee.

Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2, 6.52 ERA) gets his eighth start of the season when Baltimore launches a three-game series against the surprising Minnesota Twins.

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Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

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USA Today Sports

Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

BALTIMORE  -- Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman will wear No. 34 next season as a tribute to Roy Halladay, who was killed in a plane crash last month.

Gausman announced the switch Thursday on his Twitter account. The right-hander wore No. 39 last year.

Gausman and Halladay are both from Colorado, and the Orioles pitcher said he followed Halladay's career closely and idolized him.

In a post next a photo of his new jersey, Gausman wrote: "Roy gave me the inspiration that I could fulfill even my biggest of dreams -- being a pitcher just like him."

Gausman concluded: "The loss of Roy is tragic and saddening, but I feel honored to have watched everything he achieved."

Halladay died on Nov. 7 when his small plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He played 16 big league seasons, winning the Cy Young Award in each league and being named an All-Star eight times.

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Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

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Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

HOUSTON (AP) -- Home runs kept flying over the wall at Minute Maid Park, on line drives up toward the train tracks, on fly balls that just dropped over the fence.

Seven more were hit in Game 5, raising the total to a World Series record 22 -- with two possible more games to play. Twenty-five runs were scored in a game started by the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and the Astros' Dallas Keuchel, Cy Young Award winners regarded as among baseball's best.

After a season when sluggers outpaced even their steroid-era predecessors for home runs, some are convinced that something is amiss with the baseballs.

"The main complaint is that the balls seem a little bit different in the postseason, and even from the postseason to the World Series balls," Justin Verlander said Sunday, two days before he takes the mound in Game 6 and tries to pitch the Astros to their first title. "They're a little slick. You just deal with it. But I don't think it's the case of one pitcher saying, `Hey, something is different here.' I think as a whole, everybody is saying, `Whoa, something is a little off here.'"

A record eight home runs were hit in Game 2, including five in extra innings, and Game 5's seven long balls would have tied the old mark. The 13-12, 10-inning Astros' win Sunday night was the second-highest scoring game in Series history.

Keuchel was quoted as saying after Game 2: "Obviously, the balls are juiced."

Not so obvious to everyone, even amid the power surge.

"I haven't personally noticed anything. I haven't tried to think about it either," Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow said after giving up two homers in Game 5. "It's not something you want to put in your own head."

Same for Kershaw, even after giving up his record eighth homer of the postseason Sunday.

"I don't really pay attention to it," Kershaw said. "I just assume that both sides are dealing with it, so I'm not going to worry about it."

This year's long ball assault topped the 21 of the 2002 Series. Anaheim hit seven and Barry Bonds and his San Francisco Giants slugged 14 over seven games. That was the year before survey drug testing.

Speculation that something has changed includes a study claiming to have found differences in the size and seam height of balls since the 2015 All-Star break.

"I know there was talk about different sizes and some of the baseballs were slightly bigger and some were smaller. Some of the seams were higher, some of the seams were lower. But, no, it's been consistent," said Rich Hill, who will start Game 6 for the Dodgers. "I think that just has to do with conditions -- if it's colder it's going to be slicker. If it's a little bit warmer out or humid, I think you're going to find that you're going to have a little bit more of moisture to the baseballs."

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred insists nothing nefarious is going on.

"I'm absolutely confident that the balls that we're using are within our established specifications," he said Friday.

Verlander rejected that assertion.

"I know Mr. Manfred said the balls haven't changed, but I think there's enough information out there to say that's not true," he said.

Verlander also does not think it's an issue of how balls are rubbed up before games.

"I know baseball uses the same mud for every single ball for every single game that's played," he said. "I think there's a broader issue that we're all missing."

On the day he become commissioner in January 2015, Manfred said, "I'm cognizant in the drop in offense over the last five years, and it's become a topic of conversation in the game, and it's something that we're going to have to continue to monitor and study."

Offense started rebounding during the second half of the season, and a record 6,105 home runs were hit this year, 2.4 percent more than the previous mark of 5,963 set in 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era.

"I think it's pretty clear," Verlander said. "I think our commissioner has said publicly that they wanted more offense in the game. I'm pretty sure I'm not fabricating a quote here when I say that. I think it was already All-Star break of `15, or right before, when he said that."

San Francisco's Johnny Cueto and Toronto's Marcus Stroman also think the balls have changed, with Stroman blaming slick balls for a rise in pitcher blisters -- an affliction which has struck Hill a few times in the past couple seasons, too.

Houston's Brent Strom and the Dodgers' Rick Honeycutt, the World Series pitching coaches, both were quoted by Sports Illustrated on Sunday as saying the slickness of the ball made throwing sliders difficult.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I don't see a ton difference, but I'm not going to get in a verbal war with coaches and players who think otherwise."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had a similar view but acknowledged the power records got his attention.

"The pitchers talk about it feels different in their hand. The one component is the slickness and guys at different ballparks rub it up differently," he said. "Sort of feels the same to me. But it's hard to argue the numbers. You know there's more velocity. Guys are swinging harder. I know in Los Angeles the air was light. It was hot. The ball was flying, carrying more than typically. But I hesitate to try to give you any insight because I really don't know."

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