BALTIMORE - With a thin bench and a taxed bullpen, the Orioles needed a strong dose of offense and a solid performance from starting pitcher Chris Tillman.
They got both Thursday afternoon.
Tillman won in his first home outing of the year - and in consecutive starts for the first time in his career - and got some needed support as the Orioles broke out in the fifth inning and beat Tampa Bay 6-2 to salvage the final game of a three-game series in front of 21,301 at Camden Yards.
Tillman went into the sixth inning for the third time in four starts and took advantage of the Orioles' big inning, but admitted he felt ill prior to Thursday's start.
"From the get-go, it was kind of a battle," said Tillman, who improved to 3-1 with a 1.66 ERA this season. "I didn't feel that good, but come game time I was ready to go. It's something you deal with. I've pitched with it before, so it wasn't a problem."
Of course, being the beneficiary of a five-run inning doesn't hurt either.
Chris Davis came into the day batting .152 since June 15 and hitless in the previous two games against the Rays. But the Orioles left fielder went 2 for 4 on Thursday with a home run and four RBIs, giving him his first multi-RBI game in almost a month.
The Orioles (52-47) had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth when Adam Jones singled to left and drove in two runs to put his team ahead 2-0. Nick Markakis singled up the middle before Tampa Bay starter James Shields hit J.J. Hardy and walked Jim Thome. Jones then ripped an 0-2 pitch between third and short and gave the Orioles the lead.
Davis made things worse for Shields two batters later. Following a walk to Matt Wieters, Davis sent a liner to the wall in left-center and three runs scored.
For a team that had scored four runs or fewer in eight of its last nine games, and three runs combined over the last three, Thursday's outburst was celebrated.
"I think most of the time when we have big innings, you see guys going up, working the count, getting timely hits," said Davis, whose solo homer came in the seventh and was his 16th of the year. "It kind of catches on throughout the lineup. Our starting pitching has been great lately, and hopefully, we can continue to do that and start getting some timely hits."
The Orioles committed two errors, ending a streak of 59 straight innings without making one, but they turned four double plays - led by first baseman Mark Reynolds and shortstop Hardy showing off nifty glovework in the first inning after Tillman walked Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton to start the game.
The Rays (51-48) chased Tillman in the sixth after Sam Fuld smacked a two-run double to the left-center gap. Tillman walked Ryan Roberts to open the frame, and appeared to get Carlos Pena on a fly ball to left. But Davis lost sight of it on his way toward the wall and it fell in for a double.
Fuld followed with his big hit and Tillman was done, but not before receiving a standing ovation from the fans and a hearty butt-slap from Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Tillman wasn't overpowering, but effective enough to post another win and earn praise from Showalter, who liked the way he mixed his pitches Thursday.
"Tilly's a tough guy. He competes," Showalter said. "There's a lot of things to like about him. And I think hopefully he's starting to grasp that."
Darren O'Day, Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson each pitched a scoreless inning of relief and finished off Tampa Bay, which was seeking its first-game winning streak since June 8-10. Shields fell to 8-7 despite being the second Rays pitcher in as many days to strike out 10 batters.
Meanwhile, Baltimore snapped a three-game losing streak and perhaps gathered a little bit of momentum with red-hot Oakland coming to town next for a three-game series.
"We're not scoring anything and [then] we got out there and score five in an inning," Hardy said. "It's definitely contagious and hopefully we can keep it going from here."
NOTES: The Orioles promoted pitcher Dana Eveland from Class-AAA Norfolk before Thursday's game and optioned infielder Steve Tolleson to make room on the roster. Tolleson was hitting .185 with two home runs and six RBIs in 24 games with the Orioles, while Eveland is 0-1 with a 4.73 ERA in 14 games this year. ... Markakis is hitting .356 in the leadoff spot and has a six-game hitting streak. ... Wieters went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and is mired in a 1-for-30 slump with 15 strikeouts in that span.