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TEX@TOR: Villanueva makes a nice snag on a comebacker

The Orioles dropped their first series of the month after losing Wednesday's rubber match against the Rangers and will look to get back on track, and exact some revenge, against a Blue Jays team they were swept by the last time the two clashed.

After winning five of their first six meetings vs. Toronto in 2012, the Orioles were swept by the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in late May. Friday's contest will mark the beginning of nine remaining games the two American League East rivals will play against one another this season.

Baltimore will turn to starter Zach Britton, who is coming off his strongest effort of the season after throwing seven scoreless innings against the Tigers to earn his second victory of the year.

The Orioles will be hoping Britton can pitch with the same poise and calmness.

"There wasn't any panic in his eyes," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said about Britton following his last outing. "He had a presence. And his presentation to the Tigers was one of aggression and confidence."

But Britton has struggled in his two home starts this season, allowing 10 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings. He will face a Toronto team that is expected to receive a big return to its starting lineup in All-Star outfielder Jose Bautista.

Bautista has been sidelined since July 16 after spraining his left wrist while taking a swing during a game against the Yankees.

The two-time defending home run champion has hit 27 homers to go along with 65 RBIs and an .894 OPS over 90 games this season and will be a welcome sight for a Toronto club that has scored just 15 runs over its past seven games, and more than five just once over its last 16.

Toronto might not need much offense for starter Carlos Villanueva with the way he has been pitching.

Since joining the Blue Jays' rotation, Villanueva is 6-3 over nine starts with a 3.02 ERA. The right-hander has allowed more than three runs in just one start, but hasn't won since July 27 due to Toronto's anemic offense.

"Consistency is something that we all strive for," said Villanueva after his tough-luck loss against the Rangers in his last start, in which he allowed two earned runs over 6 1/3 innings. "Going out there, going six, seven innings every time and giving the guys a chance to win is what we get paid for as starters, especially."

Orioles: Markakis keeps on rolling
Nick Markakis has been on a tear since taking over as the club's leadoff hitter in mid-July after coming off the disabled list with a right hamate bone fracture. In 39 games, Markakis is batting .341 with five homers, 10 doubles, 26 runs scored and 19 RBIs after going 3-for-4 with a triple in Wednesday's loss. Markakis had batted out of the three-hole in every game this season before landing on the shelf.

• The 12 runs the Orioles surrendered on Wednesday were their most since allowing 12 against the Yankees on Aug. 1. Besides those two games, Baltimore has given up more than five runs just four times in its other 18 games this month.

• Baltimore fell to 12-16 against the AL West this year following Wednesday's loss, but is 55-41 against the rest of baseball, which is good for a 93-win pace over an entire season. Of the Orioles' remaining 38 games, only six -- back-to-back three-game sets at Oakland and Seattle -- are against AL West teams.

Blue Jays: Cooper's back could expedite Lind's return
First baseman David Cooper missed Thursday's game due to upper back spasms and isn't expected to be in Friday's lineup either.

Cooper had been dealing with back soreness for the past week before aggravating the injury in Wednesday night's game. The latest setback has Cooper listed as day to day and could lead to fellow first baseman Adam Lind returning sooner than expected.

Lind, who has also been dealing with back problems, wasn't expected back until September prior to Cooper's injury. Lind is currently rehabbing with Double-A New Hampshire.

"There's one scenario, that provided he gets through the next four days where we want him to DH and play first four consecutive games, we could be looking at him in New York as well," manager John Farrell said of Lind, referencing the club's series with the Yankees that starts on Monday.

Worth noting
• The Orioles will begin a stretch of seven straight at home, which matches their longest remaining homestand of the season.

• Toronto has lost 11 of its past 13 road games, including six straight.

• J.J. Hardy is 6-for-9 lifetime against Villanueva with three extra-base hits, including a home run. Comments