TORONTO (AP) - Brett Cecil was brilliant against AL East opponents last season. It's been a different story this year for the Blue Jays left-hander.
Jeremy Guthrie pitched three-hit ball for seven innings, Vladimir Guerrero and Nick Markakis each drove in a run and the Baltimore Orioles beat Toronto 2-0, their third straight victory.
The hard-luck loser was Cecil (4-9), who has not won since July 29 against Texas, a span of eight starts. Cecil allowed two runs, one earned, and seven hits in 7 2-3 innings. He walked one and struck out a season-high nine.
``He pitched a very good ballgame,' Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. ``His stuff was more crisp than his last three or four times out.'
Cecil went 9-2 with a 3.42 ERA in 13 starts against Toronto's division rivals last year but has slipped to 1-4 with a 4.63 ERA in seven starts against the AL East this season.
While Friday's outcome wasn't what he wanted, Cecil was still encouraged by his performance.
``This game, I felt like my mechanics were there,' he said. ``I told (pitching coach Bruce Walton) after my last bullpen, I felt I was throwing like last year, staying back over the rubber as long as I could and just driving forward.'
Even the Orioles were impressed.
``He kept us off-balance,' Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters said. ``He had his good stuff tonight and was very deceptive.'
As sharp as Cecil was, he still wasn't good enough to beat Guthrie. The major league leader in losses, Guthrie (7-17) came in having won just once in his past six starts and was seeking to avoid setting a career high for defeats. The right-hander made sure of that in a stellar outing. He walked three and struck out five.
``He had all four pitches working,' Wieters said. ``He was able to keep his tempo and keep his pace all night. It seemed like he was in control throughout the whole game.'
Pedro Strop worked the eighth and Jim Johnson pitched around a leadoff walk to close it out in the ninth for his fourth save in eight opportunities.
Baltimore opened the scoring with an unearned run in the sixth, taking advantage of a throwing error by Blue Jays second baseman Kelly Johnson. Robert Andino led off with a single but was erased at second on J.J. Hardy's fielder's choice. Johnson overthrew first base as he tried to complete the double play, allowing Hardy to move to second. One out later, Guerrero drove in Hardy with a single to left.
``He hit a great pitch, curveball down,' Cecil said. ``That's just the type of hitter he is. Seems like you can never fool him.'
The Orioles benefited from another missed double-play opportunity by Toronto in the eighth. With one out and runners at the corners, Nick Markakis grounded into a fielder's choice, with Hardy forced out at second. Markakis beat the relay throw from Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar on a bang-bang play at first, allowing Ryan Adams to score from third. Farrell did not dispute umpire Jim Wolf's call.
Cecil had to jump over the jagged end of Adam Jones' bat after the Orioles' outfielder got sawn off in the fourth inning. The barrel of the bat bounced off the mound, with Cecil kicking his legs up to avoid being struck. Jones eventually struck out.
After missing two games with a sore right wrist, Adam Lind doubled to begin the second and advanced to third on Brett Lawrie's sacrifice. But Kelly Johnson struck out and J.P. Arencibia grounded out.
A throwing error by first baseman Mark Reynolds and a walk to Yunel Escobar gave the Blue Jays runners at first and second with one out in the eighth, but Strop got Eric Thames to ground into a double play.
``That was probably the one legitimate and true opportunity we had to mount something,' Farrell said.
Blue Jays right-hander Kyle Drabek made his first appearance since June 12, coming out of the bullpen to work the ninth. Drabek was sent to Triple-A Las Vegas after going 4-5 with a 5.70 ERA in 14 starts.
NOTES: Jose Bautista slammed his bat into the padded railing at the top of the dugout steps after striking out swinging to begin the seventh. ... Guthrie also lost 17 games in 2009. ... Guthrie passed 1,000 innings for his career. He's pitched 1001 1-3 innings over eight seasons. ... Toronto was shut out for the eighth time this season. ... Orioles INF Chris Davis, who was activated of the DL Tuesday after missing more than three weeks with an injured right shoulder, took extra BP before the game but was held out of the starting lineup. Davis had played the past three games. ... Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said RHP Jason Berken's return is ``imminent.' Berken has been out since Aug. 22 with a strained right forearm. ... Toronto OF Colby Rasmus (right wrist) will play two rehab games with Double-A New Hampshire Saturday and Sunday and is expected to come off the DL and rejoin the Blue Jays Tuesday in Boston. Toronto is off Monday. Rasmus has not played since Aug. 23.
The Associated Press News Service
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