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Jays don't let rain get in way of victory

Jays don't let rain get in way of victory

BALTIMORE -- A.J. Burnett cracked a smile on Thursday afternoon, finding humor in the unique situation. The Blue Jays right-hander had just earned a win on a day he didn't throw a single pitch.

"I didn't do anything," he said with a laugh.

Burnett was reduced to the role of spectator while the Blue Jays wrapped up a 5-1 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards, where the clubs resumed the contest that was suspended due to rain a night earlier. The persistent showers brought an abrupt end to a strong outing by Burnett on Wednesday.

With his name still swirling in rumors as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches, Burnett spun five solid innings en route to his 11th victory of the season, though that came roughly 18 hours after he first took the mound. For Burnett, it represents the most wins he's had in a season as a member Toronto's rotation.

"There's more ahead," Burnett said. "I'm just going to concentrate on the next one. Eleven is good, but I've got a lot of [losses] behind those [wins] that shouldn't be there.

"I'm throwing good right now and have a good focus. It's a good run right now and I plan on keeping it going."

Over his past three outings, Burnett (11-9) has posted a 1.77 ERA with 21 strikeouts and four walks over 20 1/3 innings. He has wins in five of his past seven starts and continues to draw the attention of scouts as the deadline nears. On Wednesday, the Phillies were among the teams with eyes on hand at Camden Yards.

The likelihood of Burnett being dealt has seemed to decrease, considering that clubs like the Cubs, Brewers and Phillies have already pulled deals to obtain starting pitchers. There's also the matter of Burnett's contract, which affords him the right to opt out at the end of this season.

Should Burnett pull out of the five-year, $55 million contract he inked with Toronto prior to the 2006 season, the Jays would likely receive two first-round Draft picks as compensation. If Burnett doesn't opt out, he's scheduled to make $12 million in each of the next two seasons.

Last week, Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said he didn't believe Burnett would be traded. For now, Toronto is getting good production from Burnett, who leads the American League with 139 strikeouts.

Against the Orioles, Burnett racked up seven strikeouts in his rain-shortened start, including two in each of the first, second and fifth innings. Burnett had only allowed one run on six hits and no walks when the rain ended his evening.

"I was just getting strong out there," Burnett said on Wednesday night.

The Orioles scored their lone run against Burnett in the fourth inning, when Aubrey Huff led off with a triple and later crossed the plate on an RBI single by Melvin Mora. Beyond that frame, Burnett felt his only other mistake came in the second, resulting in a double by Luke Scott.

"I felt really strong and I really just made a couple mistakes to lefties," Burnett said. "I probably should've went in and threw a drop-down sinker to Huffy that stayed in his bat plane. Besides that hit right there, and the one to Scott, it was a good ballgame."

Mora's single in the fourth moved the game into a 1-1 deadlock, but the Blue Jays quickly answered against Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie (6-8). Alex Rios opened the sixth inning with a base hit off Guthrie and later scored on a Lyle Overbay single.

That put the Blue Jays ahead, 2-1 -- shortly before heavy showers suspended the contest with two outs in the top of the sixth. The clubs picked up from that point on Thursday, and Toronto went on to tack on three insurance runs against Baltimore's bullpen in the eighth.

All three runs were unearned, thanks to a throwing error by Orioles first baseman Kevin Millar, and the cushion proved ample for Toronto to pick up consecutive wins on the road for the first time since May 29-30. For Burnett, he's now one victory shy of matching his single-season career high.

"Let's just thank the bullpen today," Burnett said. "They came in and finished out what I started from the get-go. That set a good tone."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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