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J.J. Hardy, Steve Pearce relish big hits amid season's struggles

The Orioles head to Miami for a Memorial Day weekend series against the Marlins with two important, yet struggling cogs in their lineup hoping Thursday's success at the plate will kick-start their seasons.

Steve Pearce, who entered Thursday's game batting .193, hit his first career grand slam in the first inning off Mariners starter J.A. Happ fourth home run of the season and just his second since April 7.

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"It was great, considering how I've been swinging the bat lately," Pearce said. "Hopefully, this gets me started on the right foot moving forward."

The carryover didn't take hold for the rest of the game Thursday — he walked, struck out, and grounded out in his three at-bats after the rain delay.

But luckily for Pearce and the Orioles, another player who Pearce said needed a hit — Hardy — delivered an eighth-inning single up the middle to score the winning run.

"It's nice to get hits when you're feeling like I feel right now," Hardy said.

The All-Star shortstop, who made his season debut May 7 after missing the season's first month with a shoulder injury, said he has worked through the soreness of playing every day since his return.

Now, he's trying to get himself right at the plate. Hardy is batting .196 after his 1-for-4 performance Thursday, though he now has a hit in three straight games.

"Every day I'm making adjustments. I feel like one day, I go up there with a different stance," Hardy said. "Next at-bat, you know, a different stance. I'm just trying to feel something that feels good and have something to work off of. So it's definitely nice getting hits when you're not feeling great."

Manager Buck Showalter didn't believe Hardy needed the hit for his confidence, despite his early-season struggles.

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"He doesn't have to get a hit May [21] to be confident or unconfident," Showalter said. "We all know. He takes great confidence in his track record and the confidence we have in him. He's meant a lot to us since he's come back. What he gives to us offensively, we know there's going to be a return down the road."

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