ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- There's no denying that the Orioles offense sometimes can rely too much on home runs, which is one of the reasons why the club can be so frustrating to watch when its power hitters go silent.
Following an especially frustrating one-run loss to the last-place Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, the Orioles recorded their best offensive output in the past 14 games as a pair of homers sent them to a 7-5 win Tuesday night in front of an announced 10,803 at Tropicana Field.
The win was the Orioles' sixth in seven games against Tampa Bay this season. The Orioles' seven runs Tuesday were their most since an 8-3 win in Texas on June 3.
Chris Davis hit his third career grand slam in the third inning after a crew-chief review prompted the umpires to award the Orioles first baseman his 12th homer of the season.
“Obviously, in that situation, with two strikes and bases loaded, I'm just trying to put the ball in play,” Davis said. “I'm trying to get something up over the plate. I felt like I had two good swings on two pitches. That was probably the worst of the three he threw me. It was just up, and I got my barrel on it, and I lucked out to be honest with you.”
Davis' grand slam, which he hit against former Orioles left-hander Erik Bedard, came after a stretch in which he recorded just four hits in 32 at-bats over his last nine games. The Orioles are hitting .333 (20-for-60) with the bases loaded this season, with three grand slams.
Designated hitter Steve Pearce, hitting from the No. 2 spot in the order, blasted his career-high fifth homer of the season, a two-run shot off reliever Brad Boxberger in the seventh inning that gave the Orioles a 7-4 lead. Four of Pearce's 12 homers as a member of the Orioles have come against Tampa Bay.
“You always know what you are going to get from him,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said about Pearce. “He's slashing and burning and getting after it, and never has any trouble putting his head on the pillow. He's a guy that you trust. Works hard to be good, whether it's first base, left field, run the bases, hitting. He's a professional and the type of guy you like to have around. Glad he picked us as much as we picked him.”
Six of the Orioles' seven runs Tuesday -- and nine of 11 over the first two games of the series – have come on home runs. The Orioles were just 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position Tuesday, but both hits were home runs.
The Orioles (36-34) lead the majors with 23 homers in June and have hit two or more homers in 23 games this season, with 16 of those 23 coming in the past 28 games. Since May 20, the Orioles' 41 homers lead the majors.
Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who was activated from the disabled list before the game and was making his first start since May 30, struggled to preserve an early 5-0 lead over the Rays (28-44).
Gonzalez (4-4) allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings, snapping the Orioles' eight-game streak of consecutive quality starts.
“A little bit,” Showalter said when asked if he thought Gonzalez was rusty. “I thought his stuff was pretty crisp, but the command of it wasn't what he was capable of. Hopefully it was a starting point, and he can get back on the horse a little more consistently now.”
After Gonzalez left the game, right-handed relief pitcher Ryan Webb kept the Orioles ahead with 1 2/3 perfect innings.
With the Orioles already leading 1-0 on a wild pitch by Bedard (3-5) that allowed Jonathan Schoop to score from third base, Davis sent a line drive down the left-field line. Rays left fielder David DeJesus crashed into the wall while chasing the ball, which was initially ruled in-play as Davis stood on second base with a double.
But after Showalter asked for a review — he didn't need to use a challenge — the umpires overturned the call after video showed the ball hit off the left-field foul pole.
Davis waited at second base until home plate umpire Ron Kulpa gave the home run sign following a review of 1 minute, 18 seconds, and he then trotted around the bases.
“The sound. I'm not sure if that was him or DeJesus,” Showalter said about why he asked for a review. “I was glad to see [DeJesus] get up, he hit that pretty hard. But got a pretty good feel from [bullpen coach] Dominic [Chiti] in the bullpen, too. Plus the way things kind of echo in here, you can hear it.”
Interestingly, a portion of Tropicana Field's left-field fence — right where Davis' ball hit the exposed foul pole —down the line was lowered 4 1/2 feet back in 2007.
Gonzalez then allowed back-to-back homers to Sean Rodriguez and Desmond Jennings in the bottom of the third inning, marking the first time he has allowed two homers in a start since April 9 against the New York Yankees.
After Matt Joyce hit a one-out double in the fifth, the Orioles challenged a close safe call at first base on a ground ball by Evan Longoria to third. The call was upheld, the Orioles' fifth lost challenge in their last six attempts.
The next batter, first baseman James Loney, then hit a two-run double down the left-field line off Gonzalez to cut the Orioles' lead to 5-4.
Pearce then provided some insurance with his two-run homer in the seventh, taking a 1-0 pitch from Boxberger into the left-field seats.
Pearce's homer came after Joyce misplayed a fly ball in right field off the bat of rookie catcher Caleb Joseph that dropped for a double.
Pearce — who grew up in nearby Lakeland — has three homers in his last four starts at Tropicana Field.
“It's a homecoming for me,” Pearce said. “I really enjoy seeing the family. It's definitely nice to play well in front of them.”
Orioles left-hander Zach Britton recorded his eighth save in nine opportunities.
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