TORONTO - Brett Lawrie provided plenty of offence for the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
His stellar play at third base turned out to be just as important.
With the Orioles threatening in the ninth inning, the Canadian made a terrific diving catch in foul territory to stop Baltimore's momentum as the Blue Jays hung on for an 8-6 victory at Rogers Centre.
"I think every night we take the field, you're never going to be really surprised by a play that he might make," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell.
Reliever Casey Janssen had given up a two-run homer to Adam Jones earlier in the frame and the Orioles put two more runners on before Lawrie caught the pop-up from Chris Davis for the second out. Wilson Betemit grounded into a force play to end the game.
Ricky Romero (6-1) pitched six effective innings for the victory and Rajai Davis had a season-high three hits. Lawrie finished with three RBIs, three hits and three runs scored.
"The biggest thing for me is that I thought he stayed behind the baseball," Farrell said. "It's the first time in a while that he's driven some fastballs that have been up and away from him and driven them the other way."
With the victory, Toronto (26-24) moved three games behind first-place Baltimore (29-21) in the American League East standings. The Orioles are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays, who dropped a 7-2 decision to the Chicago White Sox.
Romero, who has struggled with his control of late, allowed four earned runs and six hits. He had just one walk and tied a season-high with seven strikeouts.
"I'm a work in progress and it was a good showing by the team," Romero said. "They picked me up, put some runs up early and I was able to just go out there and do my thing."
The bottom third of Toronto's lineup was strong with Lawrie, David Cooper and Davis combining for eight of Toronto's 10 hits.
"I was just trying to really square it up," Lawrie said. "Just trying to put the ball in play and I got lucky tonight."
Staked to an early 1-0 lead on solo homer by Jones, Baltimore starter Jake Arrieta (2-6) breezed through the first two innings before being touched up for two runs in the third.
Lawrie and Cooper hit back-to-back singles and Davis advanced the runners with a well-placed bunt between the third-base line and pitcher's mound.
Arrieta's throw to first was wide, allowing Lawrie to score. Cooper came across when Yunel Escobar hit a slow grounder to third base.
An inning later, Colby Rasmus started the Toronto rally with a ground-rule double. J.P. Arencibia walked and Lawrie drove both runners in with a gapper to right-centre field.
The Blue Jays took advantage of back-to-back errors in the frame. Jones dropped a broken-bat flare from Cooper in shallow centre field and Betemit botched a hard-hit single by Davis that rolled all the way to the left-field wall.
Lawrie, from Langley, B.C., scored on the second error. Arrieta escaped further damage by striking out Kelly Johnson and getting Escobar to line out.
Toronto piled on with three more runs in the fifth inning. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion opened with walks before Rasmus and Arencibia struck out.
Lawrie lashed a single to right that drove in Bautista. Cooper cashed in Encarnacion with a single and Davis brought Lawrie across with yet another RBI single.
The Orioles cut into Toronto's lead with three runs in the sixth inning. Jones scored when Mark Reynolds hit an infield grounder and Chris Davis added a two-run homer, his ninth blast of the season.
Reliever Jason Frasor entered the game in the seventh inning. The Orioles loaded the bases but Frasor got out of the jam when Ronny Paulino hit a weak grounder to second base.
Baltimore put two runners in scoring position in the eighth before reliever Francisco Cordero got Robert Andino on a strikeout.
After Jones went deep in the ninth, Paulino followed with a line drive that Rasmus misjudged in centre field. Janssen walked Reynolds before getting the final two outs.
The Orioles, who have lost four in a row, had 13 hits and three errors. Rasmus was originally charged with an error on the Paulino liner, but it was changed to a double after the game.
Toronto has won two in a row and six of its last seven home games. Announced attendance was 17,352 on a comfortable, breezy evening at Rogers Centre.
The game took three hours 11 minutes to play.
Notes: Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters was ejected in the fifth inning after exchanging words with home-plate umpire Doug Eddings. It was his first career ejection. ... Jones has 16 homers on the season. It was his second career multi-homer game. ... It was the first time this season that Romero has walked less than two batters. ... Both teams made roster moves earlier in the day. The Blue Jays recalled infielder Mike McCoy from triple-A Las Vegas and optioned outfielder Eric Thames to the Pacific Coast League club. The Orioles, meanwhile, activated outfielder Endy Chavez off the 15-day disabled list and selected right-hander Miguel Gonzalez from triple-A Norfolk. Outfielder Xavier Avery and right-hander Tommy Hunter were optioned to the triple-A club. ... Toronto will go for a sweep of the three-game series on Wednesday night. Brandon Morrow (5-3) will get the start against Baltimore's Jason Hammel (6-1). ... Toronto is off Thursday and will close out the homestand with a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox.