With 23 Orioles greats in attendance for a celebration commemorating the franchise's 60th anniversary, manager Buck Showalter said the pressure was on the club's current players to perform well against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.
As the Orioles wore cream-colored replicas of the inaugural 1954 club's uniforms, the organization welcomed back the legends of the past, complete with a fireworks display and laser light show.
But the fireworks started early as the Orioles crushed a season-high six homers in their most dominating performance of the season, battering the Cardinals, 12-2 -- their most lopsided victory of the year -- before an announced near-sellout Camden Yards crowd of 43,743.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who has struggled this season to duplicate his power of recent years, had his first multihomer game of the season, including a three-run shot in the fourth inning.
The Orioles made batting practice out of St. Louis pitching, adding home runs from Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Ryan Flaherty.
After averaging just 2.5 runs over their past 11 home games, the Orioles plated their highest run total at Camden Yards this season and largest overall since a 14-5 win at Yankee Stadium on April 8, their eighth game of the season.
With the win, the first-place Orioles (66-49) are now a season-high 17 games over .500. Since July 1, they are 23-10.
The offensive explosion overshadowed a fine performance by right-hander Chris Tillman, who held the Cardinals scoreless for 6 2/3 innings before allowing a two-run homer to catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the seventh. After Pierzynski's shot, Tillman walked off the field to a standing ovation.
Tillman (9-5) allowed just four hits on the night, striking out seven batters and walking one. Tillman now has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 12 consecutive starts dating to June 10. In his past two starts, Tillman has a 1.23 ERA, with two runs allowed over 13 2/3 innings.
For just the second time in club history, the Orioles hit multiple homers off three opposing pitchers, matching a feat achieved May 17, 1967, at Boston.
One Orioles Hall of Famer was noticeably absent, but former Orioles manager Earl Weaver would have been proud of the club's showing. In managing some of the best teams in Orioles history, Weaver, who died in January 2013, preached the importance of pitching, defense and the three-run homer.
The Orioles hit two three-run homers, including Manny Machado's three-run blast in the second inning off Cardinals starter Justin Masterson (5-7), which put the Orioles up 4-0.
Machado, who spent his pregame round of batting practice speaking with Hall of Famer Frank Robinson behind the cage, took a first-pitch delivery from Masterson over the Orioles' bottom-tier bullpen beyond the left-center-field fence, an estimated 410 feet.
Hardy, who entered Friday with just four homers this year after averaging 25 over his previous three seasons with the Orioles, homered in consecutive at-bats, hitting a solo homer off Masterson to lead off the third inning and then blasting a three-run shot off left-handed reliever Nick Greenwood on a 1-0 pitch in the fourth inning. Before Friday, Hardy hasn't homered since July 19.
After Jones hit a solo homer in the fifth off Greenwood -- a solo blast that was his 22nd of the season -- Davis hit his third homer in his last four games, taking a 3-2 pitch from St. Louis (61-53) left-handed reliever Sam Freeman well over the centerfield fence.
Flaherty ended the assault with an opposite-field leadoff homer off Freeman in the sixth, putting the Orioles up 12-0.
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