- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2009

TORONTO (AP) | Scott Richmond is giving the Toronto Blue Jays a lot more than they expected from their fifth starter.

Richmond worked seven innings, Vernon Wells and Alex Rios backed him with home runs and the Toronto Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep by beating Baltimore 4-3 on Sunday. The Orioles lost their sixth in a row.

Richmond (4-0) won his fourth straight start, allowing two earned runs and five hits in seven innings, matching a career high. He walked two and struck out six.

Just two years removed from pitching in the independent Northern League, Richmond’s consistency is making a big difference to the AL East-leading Blue Jays, whose rotation has been shredded by injuries to Jesse Litsch and Ricky Romero and a poor April by David Purcey, who was demoted to Class AAA on Friday.

“Right now [Richmond] is pitching nowhere near like a No. 5 starter,” catcher Rod Barajas said. “He’s our No. 2 guy. He goes out there every single game and gives us an opportunity to win, and he shuts teams down. We weren’t sure if we were going to have a No. 2 guy like that after Litsch went down. The way he’s stepped up, the way he’s pitched for us, it’s something that we desperately needed.”

Richmond, who lowered his ERA to 2.67, has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 10 major league starts, including five in 2008.

“I’m happy I’m contributing. I’m happy I’m pitching well,” Richmond said. “I’m so focused out there. We’re doing so great. These guys are hitting so well and playing unbelievable defense, I’ve got to do my job.”

Baltimore’s Luke Scott said Richmond didn’t give the Orioles a lot to swing at.

“As hitters, we make a living at hitting balls that are up in the zone, out over the plate, and there wasn’t really that much today,” Scott said.

Jesse Carlson worked the eighth, and Scott Downs, pitching in his third straight game, closed it out for his third save.

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