TORONTO - Drew Hutchison found the release point he had been looking for and Toronto Blue Jays found the start they needed on Monday to rest an overworked bullpen.
Supported by two-run homers from Kelly Johnson and Edwin Encarnacion, Hutchison pitched seven strong innings as the Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 on Monday.
"I was able to find my release point tonight and got in a rhythm," Hutchison said. "I found my release point for the first time this year I think. That definitely had a lot to do with it."
Hutchison (4-2) held the Orioles to three hits, three walks and no runs while striking out a career-high nine batters in his 114-pitch outing to give the bullpen a break.
"Tonight was probably the best fastball he's shown in terms of power all season," said Jays manager John Farrell. "Just an outstanding job and really on a night when we needed the starter to go deep into the game."
"I just kind of let it go," Hutchison added. "I'm not going to say I didn't worry about throwing strikes, but I just let it go."
Closer Casey Janssen came into the game in the ninth pick up his fourth save as Toronto snapped a five-game losing streak.
Johnson, who missed the previous two games with a sore hamstring, also had two doubles and three RBIs on the game.
"If it's going to hurt when I'm running the bases, I hope it hurts all game long," Johnson said. "Everybody's playing with something, 80 to 85 per cent is enough. I hope it's manageable, I hope it goes away.
"Even if you have to deal with it you do what you have to do."
The Blue Jays (25-24) were looking for a strong start after a 1-5 trip that featured short outings by their starters and two extra-inning games, stretching the bullpen.
Toronto had to call on its triple-A club in Las Vegas for fresh arms during the weekend three-game sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers.
The Blue Jays were outscored 34-16 in the series against Texas that featured a start of two-thirds of an inning by Brandon Morrow in a 14-3 loss on Friday and a three-inning start by Kyle Drabek in a 12-6 loss on Sunday.
"Obviously when you get humbled a little bit like we did in Texas you want to come back and get on track," Johnson said. "And with Drew pitching like he did and the offence scoring some runs and getting a lot of hits, it was a good win and good way to start the home stand."
The Orioles (29-20), the surprise team in the American League East this season, lost their third game in a row.
"Hutchison was good, real good," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "You can see why they think so highly of him. He had great command of his fastball tonight. I thought that was the difference."
Baltimore scored two runs in the ninth inning on four hits against reliever Francisco Cordero. Wilson Betemit singled in one run and Mark Reynolds doubled in another before Janssen was brought into the game.
Orioles starter Tommy Hunter (2-3) left without retiring a batter in the fourth after Johnson's two-run homer. Hunter allowed nine hits and six runs, five earned. Left-hander Dana Eveland took over and pitched four runless innings.
"The cutters in weren't in, the fastballs in to the lefties kept coming back over the middle of the plate," Hunter said. "When that happens, professional hitters, they take advantage of it pretty quick."
The Blue Jays scored in the first when Johnson's leadoff double was followed by Colby Rasmus' single. Johnson has reached base in 20 consecutive games.
"It almost is fitting," said Farrell. "He doubles in his first at-bat and we're pressed to send him home on the base hit to right field. So he tested it right away."
The Blue Jays added a run in the second on singles by David Cooper and Jeff Mathis, a sacrifice by Omar Vizquel, and a groundout by Johnson.
Hutchison flirted with danger in the third when he allowed a single and three walks but the Orioles stranded three runners and did not score.
"Just kind of lost it there for a second," Hutchison said. (Catcher Mathis) made a good play throwing behind and getting the guy in the run down. I was able to get a big strikeout and then make a pitch to get out of it."
Jose Bautista reached first base in the third inning when Chris Davis, playing first base, failed to come up with shortstop J.J. Hardy's throw. Encarnacion followed with his 16th homer of the season to increase the lead to 4-0.
Johnson's ninth homer of the season in the fourth followed a leadoff single by Vizquel, who tied Brooks Robinson for 43rd on the all-time hit list with 2,848.
Notes: Attendance at Rogers Centre was 16,575 ... Orioles centre-fielder Adam Jones singled in the ninth to extend his hit string to 19 games. ... The Blue Jays called up left-hander Aaron Laffey from Las Vegas for Monday's game and returned right-hander Chad Beck to their triple-A team ... Shortstop Yunel Escobar did not start Monday's game because of tightness in his left groin that forced him from Sunday's 12-6 loss at Texas in the fifth inning. He is listed as day to day. ... Left-hander Ricky Romero (5-1, 3.86 earned-run average) will start Tuesday against right-hander Jake Arrieta (2-5, 4.87 ERA).