Orioles first baseman Chris Davis knew that, eventually, the runs would come. Over the past four days, the Orioles had scored their share of runs, but the club’s recent offensive surge had not translated into wins.
Davis, who struggled to find his power stroke in the season’s first weeks before briefly landing on the disabled list with an oblique injury, seems to have found his groove — as have his teammates.
And Friday night, they had a victory to show for it.
Davis drove in four runs, including his seventh homer of the season, a two-run blast in the fifth inning that gave the Orioles the lead in an eventual 8-4 win before an announced 39,602 on Fireworks Night at Camden Yards.
The Orioles (24-22) have scored 38 runs over their past five games and recorded 12 or more hits in each of those games — their longest such streak since 2004 — but they’ve won just two of those five games.
On Friday, the Orioles got contributions from throughout the batting order. Nelson Cruz hit his majors-leading 15th homer of the season. Adam Jones had three hits, including two doubles, and scored three runs. Leadoff hitter Nick Markakis recorded his first four-hit game of the season.
“I think it was just a matter of time,” Davis said. “Obviously, the more at-bats [you have], the more comfortable you're going to get, and we've been doing a good job of stringing good at-bats together lately and scoring some runs. I'm proud of the guys and the way they battled.”
But no Orioles hitter is currently hotter than Davis, who is 8-for-16 with four homers and 10 RBIs over his past four games.
“Chris has been consistent in his approach,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I think the experience he's gone through the last couple years gives him a lot of confidence in realizing how long a season is and how good he's capable of being."
The Orioles took a 5-4 lead they wouldn’t relinquish in the fifth, when Davis turned on a first-pitch delivery from Cleveland left-hander T.J. House and sent it into the right-center-field stands over the grounds crew shed to give the Orioles a 5-4 lead.
“I think I'm just putting together better at-bats,” Davis said. “Earlier in the year, I felt like I was still having good at-bats, seeing a lot of pitches. I felt like I was drawing a lot of walks, hitting the ball hard. And then, obviously lately, [I'm] starting to drive the ball a little bit better, not missing pitches earlier on. I thought I was fouling a lot of pitches off, good pitches to drive. Now I'm obviously not missing them, so it feels good to swing the bat well.”
Earlier in the game, Davis hit a two-run double down the right-field line to give the Orioles a 3-0, third-inning lead.
“Chris doesn't have to swing hard to create some damage,” Showalter said. “He's one of those guys you can't stay in one place, in one pattern. I think he hit a breaking ball for a home run, he hit a fastball in borderline off the plate for the double and kept it fair. That's really hard to do, to keep that ball fair. You've got to stay so far inside that ball to not get it foul.”
Cruz hit his 15th homer of the season, a solo shot to right-center field off House that tied him with White Sox rookie Jose Abreu for the major league home run lead.
Cruz's homer, which came on the first pitch of the second inning, also gave him 43 RBIs, surpassing Abreu for the American League lead.
Despite being unable to protect an early 3-0 lead, Orioles right-hander Bud Norris (3-4) earned the win, allowing four runs on six hits over six innings, striking out six and walking three.
The Indians (23-26) scored all four runs off Norris in the top of the fourth inning, three of them coming on Jason Giambi's opposite-field, three-run homer.
“He had that one inning, really,” Showalter said of Norris. “Other than that, he was pretty effective. … He bent a little bit but didn't break. He made some real important pitches when he needed to. … But Bud very quietly has been pretty solid for us."
Giambi, who was 1-for- 15 this season entering the at-bat, took an 0-1 fastball over the outer half of the plate the other way and deposited it into the first row of the left-field stands to give Cleveland a 4-3 lead.
“I still like the pitch I threw to Giambi,” Norris said. “He put a good swing on it. He's been playing a long time, so you tip your cap.”
Despite throwing 32 pitches in the fourth inning, Norris posted his third straight start of six or more innings and earned his first win since the first game of the club's May 1 doubleheader.
“Really the game-changer, for me, was going out in the sixth,” Norris said. “We score two in the fifth, and to go back out there, leave a guy on third base, it says something to your team. I was really happy with the sixth. To get through that one, it put us in position to win the game.”
The Orioles plated three unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Jones hit a one-out double, and the Indians intentionally walked Davis to face Cruz. But reliever Mark Lowe fielded Cruz's grounder back to the mound and threw it into the outfield, an error that scored Jones.
Davis scored on J.J. Hardy's groundout to third, and Cruz plated the Orioles' final run on the Delmon Young's double to left.
That gave the Orioles bullpen, which accounted for 13 1/3 innings over the previous two nights, enough cushion.
Left-hander T.J. McFarland, recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before the game, tossed a scoreless seventh. Left-hander Brian Matusz, working his third straight day, pitched a scoreless eighth before allowing a leadoff double to Santana in the ninth.
Right-hander Darren O'Day finished off the ninth, retiring all three batters he faced, striking out Justin Sellers to end the game and stranding Santana at third.