TORONTO -- When it rains, it pours.
The Rogers Centre roof was having difficulty closing on Tuesday but the Toronto Blue Jays had even more trouble with the surging Baltimore Orioles who pounded out a 12-0 victory.
Blue Jays starter Carlos Villanueva was getting his cleats muddied in the middle innings as the retractable roof could not close as quickly as usual and Baltimore racked up seven runs during the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
"I can say a million things about what happened out there with the roof and everything," said Villanueva who gave up seven hits and six runs in 6 2-3 innings. "Yet the fact of the matter is it happened.
"I don't know if it got stuck or whatever happened. We were definitely not prepared for that. It was a tough inning. My cleats were muddy."
The Orioles (76-59) moved into a first-place tie with the New York Yankees in the American League East. The Yankees lost 5-2 at Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
The struggling Blue Jays (60-75) are fifth.
The rain was worst in the sixth when Villanueva (7-5) allowed only one run. He had given up a three-run homer in the fifth to Mark Reynolds who had four RBIs in the game as the Orioles outhit the Blue Jays 18-4.
Villanueva's downfall came in the seventh when the Orioles scored three runs against him and left-handed reliever Aaron Loup.
By then the rain wasn't a factor and neither were the Blue Jays.
Orioles left-hander Zach Britton (5-1) held the Blue Jays to four hits and two walks, one intentional, while striking out eight in seven innings.
Also, at one stage a fire alarm went off but an announcement was made that there was no problem.
"There was actually a point when it wasn't raining on the mound but it was raining behind the plate," Britton said. "I was laughing at them because they had to wear it and I didn't.
"It's a little bit of an adjustment because you don't expect it but once it closed it up it was fine."
The grounds crew did take a couple of minutes to work over the mound but it was not considered an official delay.
"They did a great job (of working on the mound)," Britton said.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell quickly dismissed the rain as being a factor.
"I can't say some light drizzle...we face those conditions in many places," Farrell said.
Villanueva agreed with Farrell.
"It happened, they dealt with it, too, and came out fine," Villanueva said. "It was definitely surprising, looking up just waiting for that last bit to close and then the alarm went off.
"It was a very adventurous couple of innings. It's unfortunate but it happened."
Villanueva was asked if he had considered asking for time and getting one of the trainers to bring him a tongue depressor to clean out his cleats, a time-honoured method of dealing with such conditions.
"They used to but I guess everybody was just shocked that it was happening," Villanueva said. "In the end I ended up getting out of that inning,"
The game started with the roof close and it was opened in the second inning.
"I don't even know why they opened it in the first place," Reynolds said. "It was raining outside all day. I never had a rainout in a dome and I played in Arizona for five years. The worst part was it was right over our dugout and our batting gloves and helmets were getting wet."
The score was 0-0 through four innings and Adam Jones opened the fifth with a double into the right-field corner. Matt Wieters flied out to right and Jones tagged at second. Shortstop Yunel Escobar jumped to cut off the throw from Moises Sierra but neglected to make the tag as Jones got back.
Chris Davis walked. Reynolds hit his 17th homer of the season to left field to put the Orioles into a 3-0 lead.
Nick Markakis led off with a single in the sixth, took third on a double by J.J. Hardy and scored on a sacrifice fly to centre by Nate McLouth.
Davis opened the seventh with a single, moved to third on a double by Manny Machado and came home on Robert Andino's sacrifice fly to left.
Loup replaced Villanueva and immediately balked in the sixth run of the game.
Markakis doubled and scored on a single by Hardy.
Jones and Wieters led off the five-run eighth with singles and Davis knocked in one run with a double. Chad Beck replaced Loup and gave up run-scoring singles to Reynolds and Machado.
Markakis doubled with one out to score a run. Hardy reached first on Beck's error and McLouth singled in a run.
The Orioles have won 21 of their past 29 game to catch the Yankees.
"We've got too many bridges to cross, too many things to do, to accomplish the goal everybody had coming out of spring training," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We're trying to stay in the moment, stay in what's important and keep a grip on reality."
Notes: Some of the announced crowd of 13,556 at Rogers Centre used umbrellas or scurried for cover when the rain came in the sixth and an announcement was made that technical difficulties the roof closed more slowly than usual ... Outfielder Anthony Gose and right-handed reliever Beck joined the Blue Jays Tuesday as call-ups from triple-A Las Vegas. ...Catcher J.P. Arencibia (fractured right hand) was 0-for-4 with a walk playing while behind the plate for Dunedin in the single-A team's 1-0 playoff loss to Lakeland on Tuesday on his rehabilitation assignment. ...Brandon Morrow (8-5, 2.93 earned-run average) will start Wednesday's series finale for the Blue Jays against Miguel Gonzalez (6-3, 3.31 ERA).