This one was shaping up to be a flat-out gut punch.
The Orioles appeared to be on the way to an uplifting victory when it all seemed to evaporate in a disastrous sixth inning that featured an epic collapse by slumping starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.
Turns out, all was not lost because the muscular offense that awakened on Wednesday regained its swagger on Thursday night with a season-high seven-homer performance that carried the Orioles to a 12-7 victory and a split of the four-game series at Camden Yards.
Right-fielder Mark Trumbo hit a pair of moon shots to move into a tie for the major league home run lead with 17 and Adam Jones hit a pair of homers, including his 200th as an Orioles, but it was a dramatic three-run blast by Manny Machado in the seventh inning that put the Orioles back in control of a game that had heartbreak written all over it.
Designated hitter Pedro Alvarez and new catcher Francisco Pena also homered in the eighth inning, but that was just gravy. The Orioles, who had been outhomered by the Red Sox, 12-0, coming into the series finale rediscovered their power stroke against Red Sox starter Rick Porcello and the Boston bullpen.
The victory represented a dynamic change of fortune for the Orioles, who had lost seven of their previous nine games after Kevin Gausman unraveled in the early innings of Tuesday night's game. The Orioles also had lost Monday with Tyler Wilson on the mound, so what really were the prospects for the two games left to be started by struggling Mike Wright and Jimenez?
And both did struggle badly, but the offense finally erupted and now the Orioles have won four of their last seven games and have climbed back to within one game of the Red Sox in the American League East standings.
The twin Trumbooms: Trumbo is one of the strongest guys in the game, and it showed in his second and third at-bats. He hit a 1-2 pitch into the left field bleachers in the fourth inning that measured 441 feet and had an exit velocity of 115 miles per hour. Both of those numbers were season highs, according to MLB's Statcast. In other words, he hit it really, really hard. But, apparently, not hard enough, because he came up in the sixth and launched his second homer of the game and 17th of the year – this one measuring 458 feet to straightaway center and lifting him into a tie with White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier for the major league lead.
Mr. Leadoff: If Jones is trying to make a case for returning to the middle of the Orioles lineup, he's doing a pretty bad job of it. He has been swinging the bat so well in the leadoff role that it's going to be hard for manager Buck Showalter to take him off the top of the lineup card. With his two homers, he has 10 hits in his 29 at-bats since taking over the leadoff role.
Unsung hero: Lost in the meteor shower was a clutch performance by reliever Mychal Givens, who bailed out Jimenez and pitched a strong 1 2/3 innings and struck out three to earn his fourth victory of the year.
An earlier version of this article had an incorrect starter for the Orioles in Monday's loss to the Red Sox.