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BAL@TB: Gonzalez goes six strong in quality start

It happened too late to make a difference in the playoff race, but the Orioles and their offense finally busted out Wednesday night. With four games remaining in a season that will fall short of October, Baltimore will try to keep that going Thursday night in the series finale against Toronto.

The teams are closing a three-game set at Camden Yards after splitting the first two. The Orioles' 9-5 victory Wednesday not only snapped a six-game losing streak and guaranteed a winning season, but also broke a streak of 21 straight games with five or fewer runs scored.

Miguel Gonzalez will hope the support continues as he faces Mark Buehrle and the Blue Jays.

Gonzalez (10-8, 3.94 ERA) has a 2.96 ERA in his past four starts and the same mark in four starts against the Blue Jays this season. He held them to one run over 5 1/3 innings on Sept. 15, in another matchup against Buehrle.

The right-hander's last outing was an odd one. He gave up three runs over six innings in a loss to the Rays, allowing a career-low two hits, but a career-high five walks. Two of those free passes preceded Desmond Jennings' go-ahead three-run homer in the fifth.

"I put myself in a bad situation. You can't be doing that, especially late in the game," Gonzalez said. "I thought it was a good pitch, but you've just got to tip your hat."

Thursday will be the final start of Buehrle's 14th season in the bigs, and 13th as a full-time starter. The durable left-hander reached 200 innings in each of those, the longest such streak since Greg Maddux's 14 from 1988-2001. Buehrle enters the finale sitting on 200 1/3 innings.

Buehrle (12-9, 4.09 ERA) has a chance to push his ERA below 4.00 for the 10th time during that stretch. He was strong in his last outing, holding the Red Sox to one run on five hits over six innings Saturday at Fenway Park. He struck out five without a walk.

"He's had a tremendous year," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "Slow start and then he kicked it in. He's 'Steady Eddie.' He's been doing what he's done his whole career. It's pretty amazing. He's logged so many innings over the years ... think about that. Never been on the DL. He's a rare guy."

Blue Jays: Sierra recovering from ankle sprain
Outfielder Moises Sierra didn't play Wednesday, a day after he suffered a sprained left ankle. Sierra was listed as day to day, and Gibbons said he should be ready to play Thursday.

With Rajai Davis expected to leave the team sometime soon to attend the birth of his first child, Gibbons also said the Blue Jays could make a roster move to add an extra outfielder for depth.

• Reliever Kyle Drabek left Wednesday's game with a right ankle injury after he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Nate McLouth. It was only Drabek's third appearance coming back from Tommy John surgery.

He was diagnosed with a bone bruise after X-rays came back negative.

Orioles: Schoop makes an entrance
Baltimore's top position-player prospect, Jonathan Schoop, debuted Wednesday and lined a single to center field in his first Major League at-bat. He came around to score on Ryan Flaherty's home run, then hit one of his own in the sixth, a huge blast to straightaway center.

The 21-year-old, who played second base, finished 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored. He hit .256/.301/.396 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs in 70 games for Triple-A Norfolk this season.

• Center fielder Adam Jones missed his first game since Sept. 25, 2011, on Wednesday, snapping a streak of 322 consecutive games played. Manager Buck Showalter wanted to give Jones a day off for both physical and emotional reasons after the Orioles were eliminated from contention on Tuesday.

Worth noting
• The season series is tied 9-9 going into the teams' final meeting. The Orioles have a 5-3 advantage at Camden Yards.

• Buehrle surrendered eight runs over six innings to the Orioles on July 12, his only start of the year in Baltimore.

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