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Chris Davis ends another hitless streak with go-ahead homer as Orioles rally past Padres, 8-5

Chris Davis stepped into the Petco Park batter’s box in the top of the eighth inning Tuesday with three strikeouts in his three at-bats on the day, 14 strikeouts in 16 hitless at-bats on the three-city road trip and 18 straight at-bats without a hit. He began the road trip with a .192 batting average, his highest after a game since the end of 2017, but he came to the plate hitting .178.

Naturally, he proceeded to hit the tiebreaking home run in the Orioles’ 8-5 victory over the San Diego Padres, supplying the lead that led to a winning road trip and Baltimore’s first full month without a losing record since August 2017.

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“I think anytime you’re scuffling or going through a rough spot, you want the opportunity to come through in a big situation,” Davis said. "I felt like I had a couple opportunities to cash in with a runners on base in big spot. Obviously, the home run came at a pretty crucial time. It felt good. I was just battling all day, really the last few days, trying to get back in that groove, and it felt good to put a good swing on a ball and see it up.”

The solo home run off San Diego left-hander Matt Strahm was Davis’ eighth of the year, first since July 5 and first off a left-handed pitcher since he homered off former teammate Zack Britton on Aug. 24 of last year. With a distance projected by Statcast of 417 feet, it was Davis’ longest home run of the year.

Davis’ home run came an 0-1 slider from Strahm, turning it around and sending it over the center-field fence to break a 5-all tie and give the Orioles (36-71) their first lead against the Padres this season in any inning other than the first. The victory allowed Baltimore to avoid a four-game series sweep (including two losses to San Diego in late June) and finish July with a 12-12 record after entering the month with 24 wins.

Asked what it meant to him that the Orioles ended their streak of losing months, manager Brandon Hyde replied, “Means there have been some bad months,” something David is certainly aware of.

He began the year setting the record for consecutive at-bats and plate appearances without a hit, then was a more than productive hitter for about a month before another downturn. But he was hitting .306 in July before this road trip.

The Orioles, too, have had an up-and-down year, with Davis calling the season “taxing.”

“Feel like I have more gray hairs than I started the season with,” he said.

Yet he said this year has been better than last year, when he had the lowest batting average by a qualified player in major league history and a team expected to compete instead had the worst year in franchise history. This team’s bond, as exemplified in its celebration of him when he returned to the dugout after the home run, shows that, he said.

“I know that there are number of guys in here that are rooting me on, cheering for me,” Davis said. “They want to see me succeed. I want to see them succeed. It’s a cool thing to be a part of. It really does feel like a group of guys that’s kind of a band of brothers or a family even though we haven’t been together that long. We’re starting to understand what it takes to win at this level.

“Hopefully, this is the start of something good to come.”

Baltimore added another two runs in the eighth inning as Trey Mancini, one of a handful of Orioles who are candidates to be traded by Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline, delivered a two-run single as the Orioles rallied back from a 4-0 deficit. Mancini exited on a double switch before the bottom of the eighth, with Hyde trying to keep the pitcher’s spot in the lineup at a distance with a limited bench in a National League park.

The Padres (50-57) scored three of their runs in the first against Orioles starter Tom Eshelman, a native of nearby Carlsbad. Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a leadoff home run for the second straight game, becoming the youngest player to do so, and Manny Machado, one of the several players the Orioles traded away last July, hit another long ball two batters later. It was the Padres’ 16th home run against Orioles pitching, setting a record for the most home runs by any team in a season series of four or fewer games.

Then, the resiliency the Orioles have shown in the past month carried into their final game of July. In the fourth, Jace Peterson scored Mancini with an opposite-field single, and Richie Martin brought two more Orioles home with a bases-loaded single up the middle after Davis struck out for the inning’s second out. But after Renato Núñez tied the game with a two-run single off Strahm in the seventh, Davis provided the lead.

“He’s had a tough trip,” Hyde said. “He’s had an up-and-down season. He’s had really good moments, and he’s had some tough moments. He’s part of us, and we pull for him big time, so to see him deliver in a big spot, that’s great.”

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Shawn Armstrong entered in the eighth and completed a six-out save. Orioles closer Mychal Givens, another trade candidate, was not used, but he pitched three times from Thursday to Sunday and allowed a run in each outing. He began to warm in the ninth, with Hyde later saying Givens would be used in “an emergency only.”

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