Wednesday, June 18, 2014
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Davis' slam helps Orioles hold off Rays

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[June 18, 2014]  ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Buck Showalter wasn't sure if the reverberation was from Chris Davis' fly ball striking the foul pole or left fielder David DeJesus smashing at full speed against the wall underneath it.

With a grand slam and a large early lead at stake, the Baltimore Orioles manager took a chance on a video challenge. The decision paid off.

Davis was awarded a grand slam, and Steve Pearce added a two-run shot that proved decisive as the Baltimore Orioles downed the Tampa Bay Rays 7-5 Tuesday at Tropicana Field.

"The way things kind of echo here, you can hear it," Showalter said. "We have things in place to get it right."

Baltimore (36-34) improved to 6-1 this season against the Rays (28-44), who had won four of their previous five games overall. The Rays out-hit the Orioles 11-8 and stranded eight base runners. In the first two games of the three-game series, nine of the Orioles' 11 runs came on four homers. Tampa Bay won 5-4 Monday.

Davis' second career grand slam gave the Orioles a 5-0 lead in the third inning against Rays starter Erik Bedard.

Baltimore exploited the left-hander's wildness in the inning. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases, and a wild pitch produced the first run. After hitting center fielder Adam Jones on the ankle to load the bases with one out, Bedard got ahead of Davis 0-2, but the left-handed first baseman sliced his 12th homer of the season low off the left field foul pole.

The hit was initially ruled a double but was corrected via video replay.

"I lucked out, to be honest with you," Davis said. "I was hoping it would be fair and deep enough that we could at least get one run in, but when I saw Buck go out there, I figured he was probably challenging whether it hit off the pole or not."

DeJesus crashed hard into the wall chasing the angling drive, but he recovered to remain in the game. He didn't see the wall running perpendicular to the odd corner configuration.

"I was going to catch it right at the pole, so there was no way," he said. "I don't want to do that again, so I hope he doesn't hit it there anymore."

Tampa Bay closed within 5-4 in the fifth before designated hitter Pearce (2-for-3) blasted a two-run homer -- his fifth -- off a catwalk in left field against reliever Brad Boxberger for a 7-4 lead. Rookie Caleb Joseph, who assumed the catching duties with two-time All-Star Matt Wieters undergoing Tommy John surgery Tuesday, led off with a shot to right that Matt Joyce misplayed into a double.

The Rays, suddenly scoring runs in bunches after being shut out three straight games last week, responded again in the eighth with a run off right-hander Brian Matusz, but Darren O'Day entered to end the threat with the tying runs aboard after a sacrifice fly by shortstop Yunel Escobar. Second baseman Ben Zobrist, who led off with a double and advanced on an infield single by pinch hitter Logan Forsythe, scored to trim cut the deficit to 7-5.

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Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez, returning to the rotation after a short stint on the disabled list, allowed four runs on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Gonzalez (4-4) allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his nine previous starts.

Bedard (3-5) lasted four innings or fewer for the fifth time this season, tied for the major league lead. He allowed five runs on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts in four-plus innings.

"Bedard had a tough day and, you know, (Boxberger) just made one mistake," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Tampa Bay got solo homers from third baseman Sean Rodriguez (No. 7) and center fielder Desmond Jennings (No. 6) off Gonzalez in the bottom of the third, then trimmed the deficit to 5-4 in the fifth on a two-run double by first baseman James Loney.

Joyce (2-for-4) began the fifth-inning rally with a double, and designated hitter Evan Longoria followed by hustling out an infield single. After Showalter lost a challenge on Longoria's hit, Loney sliced a shot into the corner, giving him a team-leading 33 RBIs.

NOTES: The Orioles lead the majors with 23 homers in June. ... Rays 3B Evan Longoria was given a partial day off, as he played designated hitter. Manager Joe Maddon said the fact that LHP Erik Bedard, who allows a high percentage of fly balls, was pitching solidified the decision. ... The Rays undertook a 45-minute fundamentals drill before normal pregame preparations, working on bunt defenses, double plays and outfield plays at the wall.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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