BALTIMORE -- The Toronto Blue Jays had just gotten a marvelous pitching performance from Josh Towers and home runs from four different players in a blowout victory, and the main topic of conversation in the clubhouse was a pitch that had absolutely no bearing on the outcome.
What mattered most to the Blue Jays was a pitch from Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera in the first inning after Toronto had scored four unearned runs. The fastball struck the right shoulder of Eric Hinske, who responded by taking a step toward the mound and yelling at the right-hander.
Baltimore catcher Sal Fasano restrained Hinske as both benches emptied. Order was quickly restored, but the Blue Jays' anger had not subsided long after the game ended.
"I thought it was gutless. You throw that hard and you can kill somebody," Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
Hinske was convinced that the pitch was intentionally thrown at him, likely out of frustration.
"It definitely seemed like he tried to do it on purpose, which is why I was so upset. We exchanged some words," he said. "We got to him early. He was rattled. You know, if you're going to hit a guy, hit him in the (rear) or the leg or something.
"When it's coming at a guy's head, then you're messing with somebody's career. It's wrong. It's just wrong. No doubt in my mind he threw at my head."
Cabrera (8-11) left before the Orioles clubhouse was opened to reporters, but interim manager Sam Perlozzo said, "It certainly didn't look good. It's not something I like to see happen."
Corey Koskie, Alex Rios and Shea Hillenbrand homered for the Blue Jays, who batted around during the four-run first inning and did it again in a six-run sixth. Toronto has won four straight, tying a season high, and is 16-10 since the All-Star break.
The defeat ended Baltimore's three-game winning streak. The Orioles played without Rafael Palmeiro, who watched a second straight game from the dugout after returning Thursday from a 10-day suspension for using steroids.
Towers (9-9) allowed one runner past second base in his second straight masterful performance against his former team. The right-hander pitched eight shutout innings in a 1-0 victory at Camden Yards on May 3.
"He's pitched well against us in the past. I think sometimes we try to do a little too much with him," Perlozzo said.
Towers struck out two, did not walk a batter and threw only 96 pitches -- 69 for strikes.
"They helped out with the pitch count because they swung at a lot of pitches," Towers said. "When you throw a lot of strikes and they're a good hitting team and an aggressive hitting team, that's what's going to happen. Some days they hit them right at people and some days they don't. Fortunately for me and us today, they did."
Zaun, who also began his major league career in Baltimore, hit a three-run homer in the first inning and doubled in two runs in the sixth. The five RBI matched a career high, set earlier this season against Boston.
The Blue Jays got all the offense they needed in the top of the first. After Cabrera retired the first two batters, third baseman Melvin Mora threw wildly to first after fielding a grounder by Vernon Wells. Toronto followed with four straight hits.
Koskie chased Cabrera by leading off the fifth with a shot to center that made it 5-0.
Toronto's six-run sixth was capped by Rios' three-run homer on an 0-2 pitch.
Hillenbrand homered off Steve Kline in the eighth.
- After the game, the Orioles recalled RHP John Maine from Triple-A Ottawa and optioned RHP Aaron Rakers to the same club. Maine will start for the Orioles on Saturday.
- Toronto is 44-31 at night and 16-24 in day games.
- Rios is 12-for-23 with three homers and nine RBI in his last six games.