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Orioles match team record with 7 homers in 12-2 win over Blue Jays

With the way the Orioles have mixed and matched this season, bringing in rookies and former All-Stars, once-weres and never-have-beens to form an eclectic group that keeps winning when it's supposed to fall back to reality, perhaps Wednesday's 12-2 pummeling of the Toronto Blue Jays shouldn't have been a surprise.

But anytime a club hits three home runs in an inning — including two by players more than 20 years apart in age — and a franchise-tying seven in one game, it's noteworthy, even for this crazy season.

“Wouldn't it be boring if it was all robotic and the same?” manager Buck Showalter said. “I love the different personalities and people from different backgrounds, and stick them in a locker room and see how they make it work.”

Before a rowdy announced 26,513, the Orioles (89-67) salvaged a split of a four-game series with the last-place Jays while remaining 11/2 games behind the New York Yankees in the American League East pennant chase and a half-game ahead of the Oakland Athletics for the top AL wild-card spot.

And they did it with flair, scoring all 12 runs on seven homers, tying a franchise record matched two other times, in 1985 and 1967. Chris Davis and Manny Machado hit two each, while Nate McLouth, Jim Thome and Mark Reynolds each added one. The Orioles had scored a total of 10 runs in their past four games, three of them losses, including a shutout Tuesday.

“That was a pretty good show,” said McLouth, who led off Wednesday with a homer, the ninth time he has done it in his career and second time for the Orioles. “Seven homers in a game is pretty rare, but as tough of a night as we had [Tuesday] offensively, tonight was that good.”

Davis had a three-run shot in the fifth and a two-run homer in the seventh for the third multi-homer game of his career and second this season against Toronto. He also had three homers against the Blue Jays on Aug. 24 at Camden Yards, giving him nine this season against Toronto, a record in one year for an Oriole against the Blue Jays.

In the five-run fifth, Davis, Thome and Machado went deep against Toronto starter Carlos Villanueva (7-7). Davis' blast chased Villanueva, while Thome and Machado chased history. Thome, 42, homered for the 612th time in his career, tying the score at 2 and igniting the rally.

“I thought Jimmy's home run was big,” Showalter said. “Through the years it's hard to stay in a pattern with him. He's sitting on a changeup. I thought he gave us a little juice right there.”

Machado, a 20-year-old rookie, followed three batters later with the first of his two home runs in his second career multi-homer game. It came with some historical significance.

Thome and Machado became just the third pair of teammates in baseball history, and the first in the American League, to be at least 20 years apart and homer in the same inning.

It was last done by Kelly Johnson (age 23) and Julio Franco (46) of the Atlanta Braves in 2005. The only other time was in 1958 by the San Francisco Giants' Orlando Cepeda (20) and Hank Sauer (41), according to home run historian David Vincent.

“That's the unique thing with baseball, you get the youth and you get the veteran, I guess. It's fun,” Thome said. “I guess that's something to be proud of — you are still playing.”

The offensive barrage was plenty for Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez (8-4), who has won three of his past four decisions.

“It makes it a lot easier for me to go out there and pitch,” said Gonzalez, who allowed two runs on five hits and a walk in seven innings. “Be aggressive and stay aggressive for the whole game.”

With two outs in the first, Gonzalez allowed a solo homer to Edwin Encarnacion, the designated hitter's 42nd home run, tying him for second-most in the AL. Gonzalez allowed just one more run, on Anthony Gose's RBI single in the fifth.

The Orioles' defense helped Gonzalez escape the fifth with running catches by McLouth and Davis. The defensive gems, though, were turned in by shortstop J.J.Hardy, who is dealing with a hangnail on his right middle finger that has forced him to throw with three fingers.

Regardless, Hardy made several impressive plays, including a great tag to catch Rajai Davis attempting to steal second base in the second inning and a tremendous backhand stab and one-hop throw in the fourth.

“J.J.'s battling through a lot of things right now that most people would be sitting on the bench with,” Showalter said.

The Orioles, who are scheduled to be off today for the last time in the regular season, have just six games remaining: three at home starting Friday against Boston and three at Tampa Bay for the season finale and a chance at the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.

“I think if you'd have told us a few months ago that we'd be a game and a half out with six games left, I think you'd be pretty happy with that,” Davis said. “We just got through playing Boston, and we played them well. Obviously, the three in Tampa are going to be tough, but we're at a point where we still have a chance. So that's all you can ask for.”

dan.connolly@baltsun.com
twitter.com/danconnollysun

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