Big bats nar­row gap in AL East

Machado’s grand slam one of three homers; Ori­oles just a game behind Blue Jays

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Ed­uardo A. Encina

ST. PETERS­BURG, FLA. — The Ori­oles’ pro­lific of­fense hasn’t been as pro­duc­tive in the sec­ond half of the sea­son, but it brought the bats out in the first two games this week in Tampa Bay.

With their 11-2 win over the Rays on Tues­day night, the Ori­oles opened their key nine-game road trip with back-to­back wins at Trop­i­cana Field, pro­pelled by their power hit­ters.

The Ori­oles hit three homers, in­clud­ing Manny Machado’s third grand slam of the sea­son, cap­ping a six-run f ourth against Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi in front of an an­nounced 12,207 at Trop­i­cana Field.

The Ori­oles have scored 18 runs in two games here. Their 11 runs Tues­day was their high­est of­fen­sive out­put in their past 18 games.

They have hit a to­tal of 218 homers this sea­son, the sec­ond-most in fran­chise his­tory, pass­ing last year’s club and trail­ing only the 257 homers hit by the 1996 team.

The Ori­oles (76-62), win­ners of four of their past five games, moved within one game of the Amer­i­can League East-lead­ing Toronto Blue Jays, who lost in New York on Tues­day.

The Ori­oles Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi, who was 6-0 and had a 1.89 ERA Tor. 77-61 — Bos.* 76-61 O’s 76-62 1 N.Y. 72-65 31⁄ T.B. 58-79 171⁄ *late game To­day, 1:10 p.m. TV: MASN Ra­dio: 105.7 FM

since the All-Star break. The Ori­oles scored seven runs on six hits and three walks over five in­nings.

Chris Davis and Adam Jones also home­red for the Ori­oles, but it was Machado’s blast, with two outs in the fourth, that broke the game open.

J.J. Hardy gave the Ori­oles their first lead with a bro­ken-bat tworun dou­ble down the left-field line with the bases loaded ear­lier in the in­ning, and three bat­ters later, Machado stepped to the plate with the bases loaded again.

Machado lifted a full-count fast­ball into the left-cen­ter-field stands, a tow­er­ing shot that went an es­ti­mated 411 feet. Machado, who drove in five runs, has 34 homers and a ca­reer-high 90 RBIs.

The Rays (58–79), who abruptly fired hit­ting coach Derek Shel­ton af­ter Ubaldo Jimenez pitched the Ori­oles’ first com­plete game in two years Mon­day, didn’t put up much of­fense again.

This time, Yo­vani Gal­lardo righted him­self af­ter giv­ing up a lead­off homer to Lo­gan Forsythe. Gal­lardo al­lowed two runs, one earned, on five hits in five in­nings. Davis homers, leaves game early: Davis home­red for the sec­ond straight game and the third time in five games with a sec­ond-in­ning solo blast off Odorizzi that tied the game at 1.

Davis hit a full-count 93-mph fast­ball the op­po­site way, over the left-cen­ter-field fence for his 35th homer of the sea­son.

The blast gave Davis his third 35-homer sea­son with the Ori­oles, join­ing Boog Pow­ell (three) and Matt Wi­eters, right, and Chris Davis, cen­ter, cel­e­brate with on-deck bat­ter Adam Jones af­ter scor­ing on J.J. Hardy’s fourth-in­ning dou­ble. Ori­oles starter Yo­vani Gal­lardo al­lowed only two runs on five hits over five in­nings. Rafael Palmeiro (four) as the only play­ers in club his­tory with three sea­sons of 35 or more homers.

Af­ter strik­ing out in the top of the fifth in­ning, Davis did not re­turn to the game.

The team didn’t give an up­date on Davis by the end of the game. He re­mained in the dugout the rest of the game. Bullpen shuts Rays down: Four Ori­oles com­bined to pitch four shutout in­nings in re­lief of Gal­lardo, in­clud­ing left-han­der Brian Duensing, who worked a score­less sixth in­ning in his first out­ing since he missed nearly 10 weeks with an el­bow in­jury that re­quired surgery.

My­chal Givens posted a clean sev­enth in­ning and left-han­der Donnie Hart pitched the eighth. Tommy Hunter closed out the game in the ninth.

AL EAST W-L GB

CHRIS O’MEARA/ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOS

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