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Villar’s 20th homer, Santander’s five hits lift Orioles over Rays, 8-3, to secure first winning homestand

Coming off a winless road trip, the Orioles returned to Camden Yards this week in need of a bright spot. Instead, Jonathan Villar provided an radiant inferno.

Villar’s fifth home run of the seven-game homestand was part of an all-around offensive effort in the Orioles’ 8-3 victory over the Tampa Rays on Sunday and was his career-high 20th of the season, making him the franchise’s first player with at least 20 homers and 20 steals in a season since Manny Machado in 2015.

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Villar achieved the feat, becoming the sixth Oriole to do so with Brady Anderson having three 20-20 seasons, by homering in each of the past three games, continuing a surge that has been ongoing for the past month. And with 31 games left, Villar said he isn’t finished yet.

“You never know," Villar said. "Maybe I’ll make it to 30-30.”

He needs 10 home runs and two steals for the Orioles’ first 30-30 season; in his past 30 games, Villar has nine home runs and 11 steals. But he was far from the only offensive contributor Sunday as the Orioles (43-88) earned a series split with the Rays and their first winning homestand.

Anthony Santander’s five-hit day included a seventh-inning home run. Renato Núñez and DJ Stewart had three hits each. The trio made up the middle third of the Orioles lineup and combined to go 11-for-13 with a home run, two doubles and six RBIs.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has praised Santander, who raised his batting average to .286 Sunday, throughout the year.

“I just like Tony’s overall game,” Hyde said. "I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player. I’ve said that many times, a switch-hitter that covers the plate, that’s got some power from both sides.

“He’s able to do a lot of good things offensively and he’s only going to get better.”

The output came in front of an announced crowd of 13,287 and backed right-hander Dylan Bundy, who held the Rays (76-56) to three runs (two earned) in five innings.

Rey-king

Sunday marked the last day of Players’ Weekend, which meant it was the last day Núñez got to have “Rey,” Spanish for “king,” and a crown emoji on the black jersey he was wearing.

He savored the nickname one last time, getting the Orioles’ on the board with the last of the team’s three straight two-out singles in the first. He capitalized with two outs again in the third, doubling in a pair of runs and scoring on Stewart’s subsequent single.

“It seemed like every time I came back in the dugout, they were putting another run on the board,” Bundy said.

The run-scoring hit was part of a strong homestand for Stewart. He added a double in the fifth, coming inches shy of his first home run of 2019, and made a couple of strong defensive plays in right field.

Stewart went 11-for-24 during the Orioles’ seven-game stay at Camden Yards.

After Santander’s infield single in the eighth made him 5-for-5, Chris Davis flew out to right as a pinch-hitter for Núñez, who felt tightness in his left hamstring behind his knee running the bases in the seventh. Núñez is expected to be fine, Hyde said.

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Alberto exits after blow to head

Shortly after continuing his season-long trend of getting hits off lefties, Hanser Alberto exited Sunday’s game with a head bruise and cervical neck strain.

Alberto’s third-inning single off Jalen Beeks was his 70th hit off a left-hander, the most by an Oriole since 1998. He then took off for second on a ball in the dirt, with catcher Mike Zunino recovering in time to get to the ball and throw down. Second baseman Eric Sogard had to come off the bag to make the catch, with his knee colliding with Alberto’s head in the process.

Alberto was initially called safe but ruled out after a replay review. Rio Ruiz replaced him at third base in the top of the fourth. Hyde said that, for now, there is no evidence of Alberto having a concussion.

Alberto’s hit off Beeks was his 56th single against a left-hander, the most in the majors since New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter had 56 in 2012. Alberto’s .402 average off left-handed pitching leads the majors.

Brocail ejected

Orioles pitching coach Doug Brocail was ejected for the second time this season in Sunday’s fifth inning for arguing a check-swing call with first base umpire John Bacon. Including his time as a player, it was Brocail’s 10th career ejection.

The disagreement came amid a long frame for Bundy, with the Rays scoring twice after managing only one unearned run through his first four innings. The inning was Bundy’s last as he left with his ERA lowered to 4.98. With the exception of Ty Blach’s seven-run, four-inning outing Friday, the Orioles’ starting pitchers had a 2.38 ERA in a homestand in which Baltimore won four of seven games.

“It was a battle from pitch one,” Bundy said. "I didn’t really have a slider or curveball, but the two-seamer and the split came into play midway through the game. I think that really helped me out today.

“It’s all you try to do as a starter, limit the damage.”

Miguel Castro, Paul Fry and Mychal Givens combined for four scoreless innings to end the victory.

“I thought they came in and pumped strikes and had really good stuff,” Hyde said. “Hopefully, we can continue that the last month of the year.”

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