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Chris Davis' two homers power Orioles to fourth straight win, 7-3 over Braves

If the Orioles were going to be sellers at Friday's nonwaiver trade deadline, perhaps their most marketable trade piece would be pending free agent Chris Davis, who has been known to carry a club on his expansive shoulders at times during his career.

Davis seems to be doing that again this week and he just might be lifting his team back into contention for a playoff spot.

In Tuesday's 7-3 thumping of the Atlanta Braves, Davis tied a career high with five RBIs, getting them all on two swings — homers to right-center field in the first and second innings. He now has five homers and 12 RBIs in his past seven games.

If that ends up making the statement that this team should stay together and try to make another postseason run, well, that's fine with Davis.

"I think we felt that way all year. There's times where we've played really good baseball and times when we've really struggled," Davis said. "I think there's a sense of urgency in here to go now. We know where we are in the standings, and we know the best way for us to move up is to win ballgames, and that's everybody's focus right now."

Davis, who leads the Orioles' list of pending free agents that also includes catcher Matt Wieters, starter Wei-Yin Chen and relievers Darren O'Day and Tommy Hunter, said the second-place Orioles (50-49) know what must be done to catch the first-place New York Yankees (57-42), who lead the American League East by seven games.

"My job is to go out and play as hard as I can for the Orioles. I think that's on every guy's mind," Davis said. "We have our work cut out for us. For us to pay attention and step outside the lines is not going to be beneficial."

Davis' early power display Tuesday bailed out right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who started out shakily but ended up registering a quality start, his first of the second half.

"It's always good when you find a way to get back on track, especially after having two really tough games," said Jimenez, who ended a personal three-game losing streak Tuesday. "It felt really good to go out there and compete and give the team a chance to win."

Playing before an announced 28,592 on another muggy night at Camden Yards, both teams came out swinging.

Nick Markakis, in his second consecutive night playing here in a Braves uniform, again received a loud ovation before stepping to the plate for the first pitch.

And, as he did on Monday, the longtime Oriole led off the game with a hit against his former squad — this time a single up the middle on Jimenez's first pitch.

Markakis scored two batters later on Freddie Freeman's 13th homer of the season. It initially was ruled that the ball hit the top of the left-center wall, giving Freeman a triple. But after a review of 2 minutes, 35 seconds, Freeman was awarded the homer.

Jimenez allowed two more hits and plunked a batter in the first, but wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam to yield just the two runs in the inning. He quickly turned things around after that.

After issuing a leadoff walk to Andrelton Simmons in the second, the Orioles right-hander retired 18 of his final 20 batters. The only blemishes during that span were a two-out walk to Simmons in the fourth and a two-out walk to Markakis in the seventh.

Jimenez (8-6) posted his first victory since June 28, striking out three and never laboring after the first inning. It was definitely a needed boost from Jimenez, who was so good in the first half but allowed 14 runs in seven innings over his first two outings after the All-Star break.

"I was kidding him after his last outing. I asked him if he had changed his uniform because we had a different guy in there," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I shook his hand after the seventh inning and said he was in the right uniform tonight. He was good. He actually got a little better as the game went on, I thought."

Jimenez should give an assist to Davis, who single-handedly provided him with some breathing room.

Davis' first homer of the game, a three-run shot against Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran, put the Orioles up, 3-2. Davis then gave the Orioles and Jimenez a 5-2 lead in the second by crushing a 92-mph fastball from Teheran over the right-center field wall for his team-leading 24th long ball of the year. He has three multihomer games this season and 10 in his career.

"When he is on, it makes a difference in the whole lineup," Jimenez said. "All the pitchers, they know they are going to be in trouble every time that they are facing him because he hits anything out. He is so strong, and when he is on, he is going to be hitting home runs all over."

Although the five RBIs tied a career high, Davis had a chance to break it in the sixth. Instead, he grounded out with runners on second and third. He is on pace for 40 homers and 107 RBIs this season — impressive for someone who has been criticized for striking out too much (123 times this year) and for not having a high average (.243).

"Even before, I felt like everybody was down on him. I'm like, 'You're still on pace for 30-something homers and 90-something RBIs. That's really good,'" shortstop J.J. Hardy said. "The strikeouts, everyone wants to talk about the strikeouts, but that's so overrated now. He's such a productive player and when he gets hot like that, it's really good."

Teheran (6-6) was charged with five runs on five hits and four walks in four innings, his shortest outing of the season. The Orioles added two more runs against Atlanta reliever Ross Detwiler on Caleb Joseph's RBI single in the fifth and Adam Jones' RBI double in the sixth.

The Braves (46-54) scratched back with a run in the eighth, but the Orioles bullpen didn't let Atlanta get any closer.

And now the Orioles have a chance for their first sweep since June 26-28 with a win tonight, which would further cement the belief that they are more buyers than sellers as Friday approaches.

"Who knows what they are doing in the front office? But, yeah, we're not giving up here," Hardy said. "We feel like we have a chance to go to the postseason and roll the dice. I don't know what their plans are, but we'll see."

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