Wrapping up 9-6 win (Ondrusek optioned, Hart joining Orioles)

OAKLAND - While confirming this morning that he was getting a day off and not dealing with a health issue, J.J. Hardy noted that the Orioles had won the last two games with Ryan Flaherty at shortstop. He playfully challenged the media to look it up while sifting through the dates in his head.

Maybe he's onto something. Or perhaps the Orioles simply were due to break out to avoid being swept in Oakland.

Mark Trumbo hit a grand slam and drove in five runs, Pedro Alvarez drove in three, Chris Tillman produced the rotation's seventh quality start in a row and his 15th this season, and Zach Britton left the bases loaded for his 35th save in a 9-6 victory before 16,610.

"They were a little ornery today. You could tell," said manager Buck Showalter, after his club moved within a half-game of first place. "There's a quiet confidence. You guys see it in the locker room. That's why they're so easy to trust. This is who we are and how we have to do it. I've got a lot of trust in them. And hopefully, them and us as a coaching staff.


"They're not going to panic. We're trying to grind like heck to have a chance to roll the dice in August and September, and they've done a lot of great things to get us to this point to have the chance we have ahead of us."

Trumbo was batting .158 with three home runs since the break. He gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the third with an RBI single and scored on Alvarez's double into right-center field.

"You know, there's been a sprinkling of hard contact, but overall the at-bats haven't been great and it's something I try not to look too far into," Trumbo said. "The effort is still there. I made a little bit of an adjustment today and I think it worked out well tonight."

A team that had scored only three runs in the first three games of the series needed to jump ahead and keep applying the pressure.

"Yeah, that was obviously what we were looking for," Trumbo said. "I think it's credit to the guys we faced this series. On paper, maybe not the marquee names, but they pitched really well."

The Orioles were squaring up left-hander Ross Detwiler last night with nothing to show for it except loud outs. The ball finally began to drop today, including a few over the fence.

"Eventually, we're going to need a few to fall in," Showalter said. "I think overall we've just got to keep going. It wasn't the best showing for us in the four-game set, but we did get a win here and we're going up against a tough team next, too."

They'll do it without reliever Logan Ondrusek, who was charged with two runs today and optioned to Double-A Bowie following the game. Showalter would like to add a left-handed reliever to his bullpen and Donnie Hart is a leading candidate.

Ondrusek allowed four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. The Orioles signed him on July 29 after he pitched in Japan. His failure to succeed versus left-handers ended his stay.

"He's trying so hard," Showalter said before the roster move was announced. "It's a tough situation. He comes over from Japan, he's been sitting around a while, and because of his contractual situation he had to come here, and he started out well. There's a lot of unknown there and he's trying to impress and we're trying to make his path easier. But, he had a tough go.

"He's had a good track record of command and it wasn't today. We were working with a pretty tight strike zone today. You had to throw a whole ball over the plate today."

Darren O'Day let an inherited runner score and one of his own after replacing Ondrusek. He pitched a scoreless inning on Monday, after allowing three runs and two hits and walking two batters in one-third of an inning against the White Sox.

"He wasn't able to finish off some things that he normally finishes off," Showalter said. "I'm going to check with him. We always check with him after he pitches. He's a little frustrated right now. Will see if everything's OK. He's had some really sharp Darren-like outings and he's had a couple that weren't at the level he's spoiled us with."

Tillman finally got his 15th win by holding the A's to a Ryon Healy two-run homer over seven innings.

"Good, real good," Showalter said. "He kept pitching. You get that type of lead ... He had one ball sail across. He had a lot of borderline pitches. Could have made it easier on him. He was having to throw a whole ball on the plate today. But, Chris gave us seven solid innings.

"Thought it would be a good day for us to be able to kind of back off some guys before tomorrow, but Oakland didn't cooperate."

Trumbo described Tillman's outing as the "same we've seen all year."

"Just a bulldog," Trumbo said. "He goes out there and is pretty much unfazed," Trumbo said. "Even if they try to put something together, he seems to shut it down pretty quick."

"It was OK," Tillman said. "Fastball command was spotty. It wasn't very consistent. The other pitches were there for me throughout, and I felt like we were able to make pitches when we had to, to get some key outs."

Having a big lead must have felt strange for Tillman. It also had to be enjoyable from the dugout.

"It was fun to watch," he said. "I feel like the last couple of days they hit a lot of balls right on the button, right at guys and I feel like it's been quite a few recently. Today, we were able to get some in and a couple fell for us. It was good to see."

Tillman continued to bear down despite the margin. Some pitchers tend to go in the other direction.

"It's tough," he said. "I feel like with this offense, I've been there before. These guys put up a lot of runs. It is tough. You've got to stay on top of it. (Dylan) Bundy did that the other day, and that's one of the most impressive things I've seen out of him this year.

"You've really got to stay on top of it and focus on executing pitches. Otherwise, it will get away from you in a hurry."

The rotation is on quite a roll, no longer the subject of criticism that had shifted to the offense.

"Yeah, I don't know. I don't read all that much. I hear it," Tillman said.

"The guys are throwing the ball well. We've got to keep it going. We've got a lot of baseball left and some big games ahead of us. We've got to keep throwing the ball well."

And keep feeding off each other.

"I think with every good team, I think you see that," Tillman said. "There's a lot of teams that do it. We've done it before in the past. It's fun. It's fun to be a part of. You use it as friendly competition."

Alvarez was 0-for-9 before his two-run double in the fourth inning. It didn't qualify as a slump compared to others dotting the lineup.

"It was a lot of fun," he said. "The past couple days, we haven't been able to get anything going, so to put some runs on the board obviously felt good. And obviously, Tilly threw the ball well and it's always good when we can give our pitchers some breathing room."

Just a matter of time.

"All you can control is your swing, and once that ball hits that bat you're at the mercy of the fielders out there," Alvarez said. "So, whenever you know you're making hard outs like that, you just hope you can keep replicating that swing and hope the next time it'll find some green and not a defender out there. Obviously, the last couple days we've hit some balls hard at people, but you know, I think we do a pretty good job of feeding off of that and keep going.

"It just goes to show you that you just have to keep going. We hadn't really gotten anything going the past couple of days and to get something going, it brought some life back to the team and just some really good positive energy."

Trumbo was 0-for-14 before his RBI single and hadn't been the same player in the second half. Perhaps today's game represented a breakout.

"I don't know. I don't even dwell on it," Showalter said. "It's such a challenge day to day with who's pitching. You're going to get Matt Cain and (Madison) Bumgarner the next two days and then (Johnny) Cueto behind them. It's another challenge.

"He's had a good season. Just because he hasn't been perfect the last week or so, there are a lot of people who would like to trade places with him right now statistically. We're lucky to have him or we wouldn't be where we are."

The Orioles are staying put on this trip. They're only changing opponents, not cities, and they're not celebrating it.

"Oh, this is a getaway day in our mind. Trust me. We're getting away," Showalter said.

"It's actually a disadvantage. We've found that staying in the same hotel for seven days, whether it be New York, Chicago or here is a disadvantage. It takes guys out of their routine, but ... I'll shut up."

Updated: Hart wasn't with Bowie this morning and is headed to San Francisco.

Hart is 3-1 with a 2.72 ERA in 40 games and hasn't pitched since Sunday. Left-handers are hitting .188 against him in the Eastern League.

Hart threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings with the Orioles this season. He made his major league debut on July 17 and was optioned on July 24 when O'Day came off the disabled list.

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