From Comcast SportsNetTORONTO (AP) -- Joe Saunders began pondering perfection just one inning into his latest start.Saunders and three relievers combined on a three-hitter and the charging Baltimore Orioles blanked Toronto 4-0 Monday, cutting their AL East deficit to one game."(Saunders) was the difference today," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.The Orioles, who took two of three at Yankee Stadium over the weekend, moved even closer to New York. The Yankees lost 4-3 at Tampa Bay.J.J. Hardy drove in two runs as the Orioles won for the eighth time in 10 games. The one-game gap marks the closest anyone has been to the Yankees since mid-June.Acquired recently from Arizona, Saunders (1-1) retired the first 17 Blue Jays batters before hanging a changeup to nine-hole hitter Adeiny Hechavarria, who lined a two-out single to center in the sixth.Saunders acknowledged he'd long been dreaming of the possibility of a perfect game or no-hitter."You think about it," he said, smiling. "I thought about it after the first. I was like Ooh, nice. I didn't give up a hit in the first.'"Baltimore, which had lost four in a row at Toronto, collected its eighth shutout of the season. The Orioles have won 20 of 28 overall.Saunders bounced back nicely from his Baltimore debut, when he allowed six runs in 5 1-3 innings in a loss to the White Sox."When I got traded over here they had a great thing going," Saunders said. "You just want to come over here and contribute as much as you can. You don't want to mess it up and get blown up a lot."After Hechavarria's hit, Rajai Davis followed with a walk, but Saunders struck out Colby Rasmus to end the inning. Saunders allowed three hits in 6 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out two."Today he settled in a little bit more," catcher Matt Wieters said. "He was definitely in control the whole game and was able to mix in different off-speed pitches."Luis Ayala replaced Saunders after the Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. Ayala escaped by fanning rookie Moises Sierra and getting Jeff Mathis to fly out.Pedro Strop worked the eighth and Jim Johnson finished for Baltimore, who were playing their third straight day game and riding an emotional wave after their big weekend series in the Bronx."I'm as proud of them today as I have been all year," Showalter said of his team. "That's a challenge."Adam Jones had two hits and Nick Markakis reached three times for the Orioles.The Orioles opened the scoring in the second when Manny Machado led off with a fly down the line in right. Fighting the sun and making a long run to the ball, Sierra couldn't come up with the sliding catch and was charged with a three-base error."Obviously Moises had a difficult time with the sun in right," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.Machado scored when Nate McLouth followed with a sacrifice bunt.Baltimore tacked on two more in the fifth on back-to-back RBI doubles by Markakis and Hardy. Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ avoided further damage by striking out Wieters, Mark Reynolds and Machado to strand runners at second and third."They were able to manufacture a couple of runs but he made a number of key pitches to prevent a big inning," Farrell said.Hardy added an RBI single in the eighth.Happ (3-2) allowed three runs, two earned, and six hits in five-plus innings. He walked two and struck out nine.Brad Lincoln came on after McLouth doubled off the wall to begin the sixth. A walk, a sacrifice and an intentional walk loaded the bases for Hardy, but he grounded into an inning-ending double play.The Blue Jays, who were blanked for the seventh time this season, have lost three straight and 11 of 15.NOTES:Toronto recalled LHP Brett Cecil and activated RHP Jason Frasor (forearm) off the 15-day DL. ... The Orioles selected LHP Zach Phillips from Triple-A Norfolk and designated RHP Jason Berken for assignment. Baltimore also recalled RHP Tommy Hunter from Double-A Bowie. ... Blue Jays C J.P. Arencibia (right hand) has begun a rehab assignment at Class-A Dunedin and could rejoin the team by the end of the week, manager John Farrell said. ... The Orioles will recall RHP Zach Britton before Tuesday's game, allowing him to start against Toronto.
Ideally, this is how the Wizards prefer to play. One game, like the previous win over the Denver Nuggets, Bradley Beal carries a lion's share of the load. The next game, such as Saturday's 110-105 win vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, it's John Wall taking the lead.
That balance opens up all sorts of other possiblities for teammates, too, such as Kelly Oubre (career-high 19 points) and Markieff Morris (15 points). Beal (20 points, six assists) scored 16 of his in the first three quarters. Wall finished it.
The Bucks are long everywhere, and to offset those advantages Wall had to push the tempo even off makes by not allowing them to set their defense. Even when he met resistance trying to turn the corner, he kept his dribble alive and forced the issue. When they trapped, he accepted it and got rid of the ball early. He combined with Beal for 17 assists.
"We kind of knew that," Wall said of the aggressive way in which Milwaukee covered the pick-and-roll and gave up the dive to the basket by the screen-setter. "They're a great defensive team and they use their length a lot. Knowing them in the past, on the pick-and-roll we get it to our big most of the time."
Wall had two bad passes that were turnovers in the middle of the fourth as the Wizards (9-13) were trying to erase a deficit. But he had two drives for layups, the second past Greg Monroe which gave them a 101-100 lead they'd never relinquish with 3:03 left. That negated the Bucks' length and neturalized their shot-blocking ability.
The Wizards actually had one more shot block in the game with four.
Beal closed out quarters Wednesday in a 92-85 win vs. Denver. Wall, who had a favorable matchup with Matthew Dellavedova, did most of the work in this one. Both were 7-for-8 from the line as the Wizards were plus-10 in makes.
The decision-making and IQ plays down the stretch, a problem for the Wizards just a week or two ago, were much better. Wall finished with his 12th double-double of the season with 24 points and a game-high 11 assists.
"Their best player had the ball in his hands and he made plays," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said of Wall. "It was getting to the basket or free-throw line. It was finding guys."
Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.
—Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.
—Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21
Injuries of note:
Out: G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report
Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles
—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.
—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.
—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.
—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.
—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.
Redskins 28, Eagles 24
Tandler on Twitter
The #Redskins had to activate Lichtensteiger. With Long out w/a concussion had nobody to back up C John Sullivan.— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) December 10, 2016
In case you missed it