Baltimore Orioles rookie John Means admittedly had to grind through his latest start.
Nonetheless, he was still able to put his team in position for a much-needed win.
Means tied a season-high with seven strikeouts and the Orioles took the series opener from the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 on Tuesday night.
"I have to attack better," Means said. "I wasn't getting ahead of guys either, so that was an issue. Not only were there long at-bats, but I wasn't getting strike one, strike two, very consistently. I had to pitch behind in the count a lot. That's definitely on me."
Means (6-4) allowed one run on four hits with three walks over five innings and lowered his ERA to 2.60.
Baltimore reliever Shawn Armstrong threw a pair of scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Miguel Castro entered and allowed a bloop RBI double to Randal Grichuk that pulled the Blue Jays to within 3-2 in the eighth.
The Orioles answered in the bottom half with a double that scored Stevie Wilkerson for a key insurance run. Mychal Givens pitched the ninth and picked up his sixth save.
Anthony Santander had three hits and an RBI-double for Baltimore, which can win consecutive games for the first time since May 4-6 and a series for the first time since April 22-24.
"I'm not concerned about the standings," Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. "I'm concerned about how we play and I'm concerned about trying to win a game that night and how we prepare that day, and if we're playing the game the right way, giving these guys opportunities to develop at the major league level. Obviously, winning is what this is about. At the same time, we're process-based right now and we're going to try to give guys opportunities to have success."
Eric Sogard led off the game with his sixth home run for the Blue Jays, who dropped their fifth straight game and have lost 11 of 13.
Blue Jays rookie right-hander Trent Thornton (1-5) loaded the bases on three walks in the second, but the Orioles couldn't capitalize. Baltimore took a 2-1 lead the following inning on back-to-back doubles by Trey Mancini and Chance Sisco.
The Orioles extended the lead to 3-1 in the fourth when a pop up by Santander landed between the second baseman Sogard and right fielder Grichuk.
Thornton allowed three runs and seven hits with four strikeouts and three walks over five innings.
Toronto has scored two or fewer runs in five consecutive games for the first time since 2014.
"We're working hard, the hitting coaches are working hard." Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said.
"There are still (more than) three months left. There are lots of chances for us to get hot. I really believe that we will."
The Orioles have signed 20 of the 41 players taken in this year's MLB draft, the highest being fourth-round pick Joey Ortiz, a shortstop from New Mexico State. General manager Mike Elias still expects "everything to go smoothly" with signing catcher Adley Rutschman, the No. 1 overall pick from Oregon State.
Blue Jays: RHP David Phelps, who underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2018, still needs "a few more minor-league appearances" before the team decides the next course of action, Montoyo said.
Orioles: RHP Alex Cobb will undergo season-ending hip surgery. He went 0-2 with a 10.95 ERA in just three starts this season. "He clearly hasn't been 100 per cent and it's more important to us that we get this issue corrected at the right time and have him 100 per cent for next spring training," Elias said.
Blue Jays: Edwin Jackson (0-4, 11.90 ERA) has struggled to get on track and allowed six runs (two earned) and six hits over 3 1/3 innings in his last start against the Yankees. Jackson is 6-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 11 career games (nine starts) against Baltimore.
Orioles: David Hess (1-8, 7.08 ERA) is looking to recapture the form of his first start April 1 against Toronto when he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He has since gone winless with an 8.20 ERA over his next 11 appearances.