BALTIMORE - A homestand that began with frustrating losses and created questions about whether the Baltimore Orioles were contenders ended Wednesday, with the home team clinching a series win over rival New York.
The Orioles battered Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda and smashed three home runs on their way to a 6-3 victory in front of 26,725 at Camden Yards, closing out the eight-game set with two wins after dropping the first six.
"There's a difference between being paranoid and being alert," manager Buck Showalter said. "And our guys are alert to what's around every corner. Just because something good happens or something bad happens doesn't mean it's going to continue unless you stay on top of your business, and this group will."
Baltimore's middle hitters led the way Wednesday - Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and Matt Wieters combined for eight hits, two doubles, two homers, five runs, and five RBIs. And, eight of the Orioles' nine batters had at least one hit.
Davis went 4 for 4 with a two-run blast, and Wieters added a three-run shot to give the Orioles (25-21) a series win and help starter Jason Hammel overcome a string of bad outings to match his longest stint of the season.
Hammel's 6 2-3 innings marked the fourth consecutive quality start by an Orioles pitcher. He walked two and struck out six, which also tied a season high.
"We haven't really been pulling our weight," said Hammel, who improved to 6-2. "Once again tonight, the guys put up some runs for us and we were able to pitch with a lead, which allows us to be aggressive. That's just what they've been doing all year and it's time for us to continue to get deeper into games. And I was able to do that tonight. We're moving in the right direction."
Kuroda (6-3) left in the third inning after giving up a double to Jones and a single to Davis. The Yanks' right-hander took a Manny Machado liner off his leg in the second inning but stayed in until manager Joe Girardi pulled him after the Davis single.
The team called Kuroda's injury a bruised right calf.
In came reliever Preston Claiborne, and he was greeted by Wieters' three-run homer that pushed the Orioles' lead to 6-1.
New York (28-18) got on the board in the second when Curtis Granderson led off with a double and Robinson Cano scored him on a single to center. Granderson fell a triple short of the cycle and was stranded in the on-deck circle in the ninth while Darren O'Day struck out pinch-hitter Brett Gardner to end the game.
The Orioles hit Kuroda hard in the first inning behind home runs from Nick Markakis and Davis, who launched a two-run shot to right-center for his league-leading 14th of the season and a 3-0 Baltimore lead. Kuroda had allowed three home runs in 58 2-3 innings this season prior to the first frame Wednesday.
Davis collected his second four-hit game of the season, and fifth of his career. And he's gone deep five time in his last 12 games.
Baltimore took two of three and could have swept the series if not for a Jim Johnson blown save Monday night. The Orioles had Yankees ace CC Sabathia in line for a loss before Johnson gave up two runs in the ninth and New York won 6-4 in the 10th. The teams went extras again Tuesday, and Nate McLouth's walk-off home run gave Baltimore a 3-2 victory.
No such drama Wednesday night thanks to Hammel and an offensive outburst.
"We battled CC and had more success against him than we have in the past," Davis said. "That was a tough game to lose but Nate picked us up [Tuesday] night with the walk-off. And I think more than anything it gave us a shot of adrenaline emotionally."