OAKLAND, CALIF. — The Orioles have seen it before. Baseball fans have seen it before. And it's happening again.
A scalding Chris Davis is lifting the wildly inconsistent Orioles onto his massive shoulders, punctuating his most impressive recent run with a 10th-inning grand slam Wednesday to give his club a 7-3 win over the Oakland A's.
Davis hit a full-count, 93-mph fastball from Arnold Leon (0-1) over the center-field fence at O.co Coliseum for his second grand slam in 12 days and the sixth of his career.
Davis is now batting .309 with nine homers and 26 RBIs in his past 15 games.
"I feel like I'm seeing the ball well right now. Being patient for the most part," Davis said. "You try to take advantage of the situations where we have runners in scoring positions and not do too much and just get one run in. And, a lot of times, when you're just trying to do a little you get rewarded with a lot."
Understated, but still scalding.
"It seems when he is hot he carries the team," said closer Zach Britton (2-0) who pitched an unconventional 2 1/3 innings for the win. "Not too many guys can do that. Some guys, they'll get hot. But to get hot and to carry the team are two different things. And CD is doing that. Today was the perfect example of it."
Davis is the second player this year to hit an extra-inning grand slam, joining the Cincinnati Reds' Todd Frazier. The feat has happened just six other times in modern Orioles history. Davis' teammate Matt Wieters has two extra-inning slams in his career (2013 and 2012). The others are Harold Baines (1999), Joe Nolan (1982), Tommy Davis (1975) and Brooks Robinson (1970). Strangely, all occurred in the 10th inning.
The blast gives Davis 28 homers and 79 RBIs this season, second-most in the American League behind Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, who hit a two-run homer Wednesday to reach 80 RBIs.
"It means I'm doing my job for the most part," said Davis, a pending free agent who hit 26 homers last season and set a franchise record with 53 in 2013. "I think stats are great, you try to take a look at them at the end of the year and assess how you've done and where you're at. But for me, right now, my job is to go out and produce every night."
His job is also to help the Orioles (55-52) make the postseason for the third time in four years. The club is at least keeping pace with the other AL wild-card contenders, having won nine of its past 12. The Orioles also picked up a game on the New York Yankees, drawing to within 5 1/2 games of first place in the AL East.
Wednesday's victory, though, might have been one of the most important in this stretch. It came in Oakland, where the Orioles had been 8-20 since the beginning of the 2008 season. It marked just the second time in that span in which the Orioles have won a season series at the Coliseum. And it occurred in the first part of a three-city West Coast road trip, hours after they had lost a lackluster 5-0 game Tuesday night.
It was big enough that even manager Buck Showalter, king of the downplay, admitted it had some significance.
"That was [big]. It's tough. Everybody is working on short sleep. There's a lot of opportunities there to give in and our guys didn't," Showalter said. "You want to start the road trip off winning a series because now we are going to a couple tough venues [in Anaheim and Seattle]."
Although Davis was the hero, Britton also came up huge for his team. The lefty closer hadn't pitched in five days and Showalter wanted him to get some work.
Britton received plenty. He entered in the eighth with two outs and watched Caleb Joseph throw out a runner to end the inning. Britton, a former starter, then pitched the ninth and 10th for his longest outing since April 2013, when he wasn't yet the club's closer.
"I made the joke that's about as long as I last anyway starting," Britton quipped afterward. "It was different, but with the four days off, I assumed there might be a chance that I go an inning-plus today. Maybe not two-plus, but I was ready for it."
Britton retired six of the seven batters he faced to hand the spiraling A's (48-61) their ninth loss in 13 games.
Playing before an announced crowd of 20,176, neither the A's nor Orioles could mount much offense despite starters Wei-Yin Chen and rookie Kendall Graveman both exiting before the sixth inning ended.
Chen allowed three runs in five innings — failing to post a quality start for the third consecutive outing after a streak of six consecutive quality starts from June 15 to July 21.
"Ever since the second half started, I've felt not as good as the first half, so I tried to do a couple different [mechanical] things that didn't work out," Chen said through interpreter Louis Chao. "So now, I don't want to keep doing that."
The lefty's control fell apart in a 36-pitch third inning in which he issued three of his four walks. He had walked one in his previous four starts combined.
The Orioles rallied to tie the game, 3-3, in the sixth on RBI singles by Jimmy Paredes and J.J. Hardy. They then waited for Davis to do his thing, and now head to Southern California 2-1 on this long West Coast swing.
"A pretty good road trip ahead of us, so I think it was huge to get the win," Davis said. "It fired me up. I was excited. Happy for the guys."