From Comcast SportsNetBALTIMORE (AP) -- After losing two straight games to Toronto, the Baltimore Orioles broke out the big bats.The Orioles tied a team record by with seven home runs to rout the Blue Jays 12-2 and stay within 1 games of the AL East lead.Chris Davis and Manny Machado each connected twice and the Orioles remained close to the division-leading New York Yankees, who won 8-2 in Minnesota.Nate McLouth hit a leadoff shot in the first inning and Jim Thome and Mark Reynolds also homered. Baltimore has hit seven home runs three times, most recently on Aug. 26, 1985."Home runs are very unique, and when you do what we did tonight, it's something to be proud of. It's something that doesn't happen a whole lot in the game," Thome said.Thome's home run was the 612th of his career and the first he's hit at home for the Orioles."Up and down the lineup, everyone swung the bat well. It's been fun," Thome said.Davis finished with a career-high five RBIs to help the Orioles split a four-game series with the last-place Blue Jays."This was a tough series. It was one of those ones that you don't want to see at the end of the season coming in off a long road trip," Davis said."I think if you'd have told us a few months ago that we'd be a game-and-a-half out with six games left, I think you'd be pretty happy with that."Beginning Friday, the Orioles have three games with Boston at home and three at Tampa Bay."We just got through playing Boston and we played them well. Obviously, the three in Tampa are going to be tough, but we're at a point where we still have a chance, so that's all you can ask for," Davis said.The Orioles trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth before hitting three home runs.Thome led off with his third homer since joining the Orioles. With two outs, Machado hit his fifth of the year for a 3-2 Baltimore lead. All of Machado's home runs have come at home, and his drive was the Orioles' 200th homer of the year.Davis' three-run drive gave the Orioles a five-run inning and finished Carlos Villanueva (7-7).Villanueva equaled a career high by giving up four home runs."Those mistakes I made, they hit them with authority. They put the power stroke on them and made me pay for them," Villanueva said.Machado and Thome are the first AL teammates to hit home runs in the same inning with an age difference of more than 20 years, according to home run historian David Vincent.Thome is 42 and Machado is 20 -- Thome's major league career began 10 months before Machado was born."That's crazy," Machado said. "It's a pretty good stat. I remember when I used to watch (Thome) play when I was a little kid. Now to hit a home run in the same inning he did, just feels great."Davis hit his second home run in the seventh. On Aug. 24, he hit three home runs against the Blue Jays, also in a game started by Villanueva. He has 28 home runs.Reynolds hit his 23rd homer in the sixth and Machado added a two-run shot in the eighth.Miguel Gonzalez (8-4) allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings. He allowed Edwin Encarnacion's 42nd home run with two outs in the top of the first.With one out in the fifth, J.P. Arencibia, who went 7 for 9 in the four-game series, doubled and scored on Anthony Gose's single.NOTES:Orioles LHP Randy Wolf was put on the 60-day disabled list with a torn ligament in his left elbow. Baltimore purchased the contract of INF-OF Bill Hall from Triple-A Norfolk. Hall will provide outfield help while Lew Ford is out with a groin injury. ... Deion Sanders, in town for Thursday's NFL Network game between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, took batting practice with the Orioles before the game. Sanders, who played nine years in the majors, was an outfielder for Baltimore manager Buck Showalter in the minors while in the Yankees' organization. ... The Orioles are off Thursday and begin a three-game series with Boston on Friday. Baltimore RHP Chris Tillman (8-2, 3.08 ERA) faces Red Sox RHP Aaron Cook (4-10, 5.13). ... On Thursday, Toronto hosts New York to begin a four-game series. Blue Jays RHP Brandon Morrow (8-7, 3.28) faces Yankees RHP Ivan Nova (12-7, 4.94).
Postgame analysis of the Nats' 8-6 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field:
How it happened: After the Nats enjoyed a brief 2-0 lead highlighted by a first-inning solo home run by Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer's homer problem reared its ugly head once again.
The barrage began in the second inning when Tommy La Stella took Scherzer deep to tie it up at 2-2. Two innings later, the 31-year-old right hander allowed back-to-back solo shots to Anthony Rizzo and Nats-killer Ben Zobrist. It got worse as Zobrist hit his second of the day, this time a three-run homer, making it 7-2 Cubs and essentially ending Scherzer's outing.
The Nats wouldn't go away, however, putting together a four-run rally in the eighth thanks to a two-run double by Jayson Werth and a two-run home run by Wilson Ramos. But like Thursday night's loss, it was too little, too late.
What it means: The Cubs are good. Really, really good. The Nats, while off to a solid start themselves, aren't yet in the class of the North Siders, whose run differential now sits at a ridiculous +98. With Washington dropping the first two games of this marquee series, it is now 5-3 on this 10-game road trip.
Scherzer gets roughed up: The Nats' $200 million man turned in his worst start of the season against the Cubs — and perhaps the worst start of his tenure in D.C. Scherzer's home run issues continued Friday afternoon, as he yielded four long balls —tied for his career-high in a single start — en route to allowing seven earned runs over five innings.
Scherzer's struggles have gotten to the point where it's hard to ignore that something's just not right. For one, Friday's outing represented the most runs he'd allowed since joining the Nats in 2015. Secondly, he now leads the majors in home runs allowed with nine. And if that isn't enough, he's also having trouble with the strike zone: He's already issued 15 walks in his first seven starts, nearly half of last season's total of 34.
Murphy's back at it again: The silver lining in Friday's tough loss is that Daniel Murphy is continuing his scortching start to the season. After going hitless Thursday night, the Nats second baseman rebounded big time by going 4-for-4 on the afternoon to raise his batting average to an MLB-leading .406. It feels like this can't last all season, but a month into the season, he hasn't found himself in anything remotely resembling a slump. It's unlikely that Murphy's the next incarnation of Ted Williams, but it's safe to say the Nats may have gotten a bargain when they signed him last winter at three years, $37.5 million.
What's next: The Nats will hope the third game in this four-game set is the charm as they'll send Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.15 ERA) to the mound on Saturday afternoon to oppose the Cubs' Jason Hammel (4-0, 1.24 ERA).
OWINGS MILLS – Nobody has to tell Ravens rookie Keenan Reynolds about the intensity of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. Reynolds admitted Friday that when seeking advice on switching from quarterback in college to wide receiver in the NFL, he asked former Steelers star Hines Ward for advice.
“I know that’s like a cardinal sin in this building,” Reynolds said after his first day of Ravens rookie minicamp. “We got to talk before the draft, to ease everybody’s mind.”
Ravens fans will certainly forgive Reynolds, especially if Ward offers helpful hints. He has also been consulting former Washington Redskin and current CSN analyst Brian Mitchell, which could help him progress as well.
As a sixth-round pick, Reynolds hopes to make an immediate impact as a receiver-returner with the Ravens, after a brilliant career playing quarterback at Navy.
Reynolds got encouraging news off the field this week, when Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, said he would do everything in his power to make sure Reynolds’ Navy commitments would not interfere with playing for the Ravens.
Reynolds said he had not received a further update on the Navy’s plans for him. But a precedent for Reynolds playing NFL football right away has already been set. Patriots long snapper Joe Cordona, who was Reynolds’ teammate at Navy, played his entire rookie season with New England last year while also working at a Naval Preparatory Academy in Rhode Island.
Cordona has been a sounding board for Reynolds.
“I’ve been blowing his phone up this whole process,” Reynolds said. “I was blowing him up on draft day. He has really helped, and his experience, obviously, being able to serve and play, has been really helpful.”
Reynolds has known for months that his NFL future would probably not be at quarterback.
“When I got invited to the (East-West) Shrine game, I saw that I wasn’t a quarterback anymore,” said Reynolds, who was listed as a running back for that game.
But Reynolds is not complaining, and he knows many people are rooting for him.
“This is an opportunity to pursue the dream at the next level, and I’m embracing it with everything I can,” Reynolds said.
Down 3-1 in their best-of-seven series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Caps know they have a tough hill to climb if they hope to avoid another second round exit. Not many teams have been able to overcome a 3-1 deficit, but the Caps are finding confidence from an unexpected source: last year's playoffs.
Not only did the Capitals hold a 3-1 series lead over the New York Rangers, they came within 1:41 of winning the series before the Rangers tied Game 5 and eventually stunned the Caps in seven games.
"We're in a reverse situation last year where we, Game 5, we had a team that basically pretty well down and out," head coach Barry Trotz said, "and they threw a puck to the net and it hits one of our defenseman, goes in and they end up winning in overtime and that sort of changed it."
Now that the Caps find themselves on the other end of the 3-1 deficit, they are drawing on that experience as a guide for how to climb back against the Penguins.
"It's a very similar situation," Braden Holtby said. "I think we're up 3-1 last year against the Rangers and it could have been 3-1 the other way. Same as this year. It could be 3-1 in our favor pretty easily. A couple breaks go the other way so in realizing that, you can take a page out of what the Rangers did and stuck with what they were doing last year."
It's a lesson Washington has struggled with over its history.
In the Bruce Boudreau era when the Caps developed a reputation as a team that could not win when it mattered, the players routinely abandoned the gameplan whenever they began to struggle. That's a mistake Trotz is determined to prevent the Caps from repeating again.
"We have to find another way to not really reinvent the game but just execute better, be a little sharper," Trotz said. "We get a chance to score, we've got to bury our chances. Those are the things that matter and then we've got to stay with it."
With their win in Game 5, the Rangers stole the momentum and suddenly the Caps began to feel the pressure in a series that had seemed well in hand. The lesson is clear: one win is all it takes to change a series.
"It can spiral pretty quick," Tom Wilson said. "When your'e the team that's up 3-1, you lose the game tomrrow night, it's 3-2 then we steal another one. It's not like we're down 8-1 in the series. ... It's the first team to four and they're only at three."
"We've got to have a belief that you win one, win the first period, keep going and if you win one, then things can change," Trotz said. "I mean we were prime candidates to see it first hand in the Rangers series last year so, hopefully all we can do is look at the game in front of us and go from there."
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