One swing won't cure all of the Orioles' problems -- it can't bring them out of the hole they've dug for themselves -- but as Chris Davis sent his second homer of the game Wednesday night deep into the center-field stands of Camden Yards, he gave the reeling Orioles what they needed most.
Davis' solo homer to open the bottom of the 11th inning off Rays reliever Matt Andriese gave the Orioles a 7-6 walk-off victory, snapping their second six-game losing streak over the past two weeks. The Orioles entered the night having lost 11 of their last 12, their playoff hopes dimming by the day.
This team had struggled enough to get a lead, let alone win a game. Davis' blast, his team-high 38th of the season, gave the Orioles their first lead in 51 innings dating back to the fourth inning of Friday's loss in Texas.
As Davis sent Andriese's 3-0 delivery into the Baltimore night an estimated 450 feet, the ball landing just in front of the center-field scoreboard, he took a second to look at it soar, then — almost in relief — flipped his bat as he began to round the bases.
"We've been fighting and clawing and I feel like every time we get up, we turn around and get back down," Davis said. "Just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Some of it is self-inflicted, some of it is not. …
"That was a big one for us. You don't want to get swept at home, especially in the midst of a losing streak when you're about to go on the road to play a division rival. Change something up."
Over the past two weeks, the Orioles have seemingly been on a repeat reel of losing, continuously falling behind early and failing to rally enough offense together for a comeback.
The Orioles fell behind early again on Wednesday — they've been scored upon first in eight of their last nine games — as starter Kevin Gausman was chased in the top of the third inning and the O's fell behind 4-0.
But, this time, the Orioles (64-69) rallied back from two deficits, aided by some stellar defensive plays that saved at least three potential runs.
"I said before the game that we just needed a win -- whether it was clean, dirty, scrapping," catcher Matt Wieters said. "There was a little bit of everything in that game. Right now we just need wins, and really that's going to be our motto for the rest of the year, just get wins any way, any how."
The Orioles went into the bottom of the ninth trailing by two before Jonathan Schoop's game-tying two-run homer off Rays closer Brad Boxberger sent the game to extra innings.
After Wieters opened the ninth by drawing a walk, Schoop lined a 1-1 pitch into the left-field seats to tie the game at 6-6. Seven of Schoop's 11 homers this season have either tied the game or given the Orioles the lead.
"It was big for Jon," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Jon, like just about all our guys, wants something so much, it's hard. When you get it there's such a release because you're wanting to do something every time up. I think what Jon is learning little by little is that you can't let something snowball. You have a couple at-bats that don't go your way or a play, you go out there and you've got to keep grinding. It's going to come back around."
The Rays broke a tie in the top of the sixth on back-to-back doubles by J.P. Arencibia and Grady Sizemore off reliever Mychal Givens. Evan Longoria added an insurance run in the ninth with his second home run of the night, a solo homer off Darren O'Day that hit off the left-field foul pole
Davis had capped the Orioles' four-run third with a two-run homer off Rays right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, a blast that tied the game at 4-4 and brought life into Camden Yards.
After Steve Pearce opened the inning with a leadoff double, Manny Machado and Gerardo Parra followed with back-to-back one-out hits. Machado's line drive into center field scored Pearce and Parra's double into the right field corner scored Machado from first.
The Rays plated four runs in the top of the third on a cruel comedy of errors as the first eight Tampa Bay batters reached base against Gausman.
The inning began with Arencibia, an Orioles non-roster invitee this past spring, hitting his second homer in as many games, a solo blast over the left-field foul pole.
Almost immediately after third-base umpire Chris Guccione twirled his finger to indicate a home run, Showalter sprinted out of the Orioles dugout to challenge the call, but following a three-minute, 45-second crew chief review, the call stood, giving Arencibia — who was released by the Orioles in April — his seventh RBI over the past two games.
It didn't get better from there. Gausman walked Sizemore, who was then thrown out by Wieters attempting to steal second base. But Brandon Guyer doubled and then Longoria blasted a 1-1 hanging changeup onto the concourse in left field for a two-run homer that gave Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead.
Gausman then dropped a toss from Davis while running over to cover first base, then tripped over the first-base bag and fell to the ground. Logan Forsythe's fly ball to right field deflected off the tip of Parra's glove on the warning track, dropping for a double, and after a walk to Asdrubal Cabrera, James Loney's bloop single scored John Jaso to give the Rays a 4-0 lead and finish Gausman.
Gausman didn't use the lengthy replay delay as an excuse, but admitted it might have affected his rhythm.
"Little bit," Gausman said. "I think anytime you have a break in the middle of an inning, I think that was one of the longest ones we've ever had. I definitely felt like, just kind of waiting for a decision. I don't think it has anything to do with the inning getting away from me, but definitely a little bit different."
Gausman's 2 1/3-inning outing was the shortest in his 37 career major league starts. He allowed four runs — three earned — and 11 baserunners (eight hits, two walks and a Gausman fielding error). Gausman has also allowed multiple homers in three of his last four starts.
It actually could have been worse for Gausman if not for two excellent defensive plays early in the game. Pearce robbed Guyer of a solo home run in the first inning, making a jumping catch over the left-field wall, and Adam Jones threw out Forsythe at home plate attempting to score on Kevin Kiermaier's two-out single in the second inning.
Parra saved a run in the seventh inning with a diving catch on Cabrera's sinking liner to right with two outs and Forsythe on second base.
"I'm just glad we won," Gausman said. "That's the biggest thing, especially with what we are going through right now. … You can kind of tell, we didn't want to lose. We were kind of sick and losing. [Machado] came up to me multiple times in that third inning and said, 'Hey, get out of this inning. We are going to score runs.' I think it was one of those things where we didn't want to lose."
The Orioles still face an uphill climb, especially as they embark on a six-game road trip to play division leaders Toronto and New York, but for at least one night, they stopped their fall down the AL East standings. They entered the night 6 ½ games behind Texas for the second AL wild card with 29 games remaining. They're closer to the AL East cellar, three games ahead of the last-place Boston Red Sox.
"I understand how hard this is, almost to a fault," Showalter said. "Our guys are sincere and that's why I'm frustrated for them. I hurt for them and obviously our fans and stuff because I know how everybody wants it as much as [we do] ... September is an eternity. You never know. We've got a tough road ahead of us, but so do [the other teams]."