When Chris Davis homered in the third inning tonight, it was not one of those majestic 400-plus foot homers that carry well into the stands. But it sure was a welcome sight for Davis and O’s fans, no matter how far it traveled.
Davis hit his third career grand slam in that five-run third as the Orioles beat Tampa Bay 7-5 to improve to 36-34 and even this series at a win each. With Toronto losing to New York, the O’s moved within four games of first place in the American League East.
Davis’ homer hit the left field foul pole and a review was needed to confirm that. It made it 5-0 against Erik Bedard after his wild pitch scored the game’s first run. According to ESPN Stats and Info, at 319 feet, it was the shortest homer that cleared the fences in the majors in 2014.
Davis hit grand slams previously on July 31, 2012 and April 5, 2013. This was the O’s third slam of this season. Nelson Cruz produced one on April 23 and Manny Machado hit one on June 1.
Davis is now 3-for-4 with nine RBIs this year when batting with the bases loaded. With that one swing, he produced more runs then the three or less the Orioles had scored in six of the last 11 games.
Tampa Bay came right back with back-to-back homers off Miguel Gonzalez in the last of third by Sean Rodriguez and Desmond Jennings. A two-run double by James Loney in the fifth made it 5-4 and ended the O’s run of eight consecutive quality starts.
In the seventh, Steve Pearce hit a two-run homer scoring Caleb Joseph, who had doubled, as the O’s added key insurance runs. Pearce added a double later as part of a 2-for-3 night with two walks.
The O’s seven-run total is their most runs since scoring eight on June 3 at Texas.
Gonzalez went just long enough to quality for a win. Gonzalez allowed eight hits and four runs over five innings. He threw 95 pitches and is now 4-4 with an ERA of 4.41.
The O’s bullpen needed to cover four innings and did. Ryan Webb pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings and Zach Britton finished up with a six-pitch save, his eighth.
Now 20-17 on the road, 18-12 against the AL East, 6-1 against the Rays and 36-34 for the season, the O’s send Kevin Gausman (2-1, 3.71 ERA) against Alex Cobb (2-4, 3.99 ERA) Wednesday afternoon at 1:10 p.m. in the series finale.