The Orioles figured out a simple way Monday night to bust out of an offensive skid that cost them three games at Wrigley Field over the weekend.
Get home -- and start homering. And keep homering, in consecutive at-bats, if possible, until you've beaten the opposition into submission and set a little franchise history.
In a 9-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night, five different players each hit a home run to help the Orioles snap their three-game losing streak.
Perhaps more impressive, the first two homers were hit back-to-back in the third inning, and the other three were hit consecutively in the fifth -- the first time in the Orioles' 60-year history in which they have had two consecutive homers and three consecutive homers in the same game.
Take that, offensive skid.
With the win, the American League East-leading Orioles (74-55) improved to 35-26 at Camden Yards and have now beaten the Rays (64-67) in nine of 13 games this season.
The Orioles maintained a six-game lead in the division over the New York Yankees (68-61), who beat the Kansas City Royals on Monday night.
With the first day of school Monday for many Baltimore-area kids, the announced crowd was just 15,516, the smallest at Camden Yards since the team drew 13,478 against the Texas Rangers on July 2. But those who showed witnessed a stunning power display by the most prolific home run-hitting team in the major leagues.
After managing just four runs in a sweep by the Chicago Cubs over the weekend, the Orioles scored six in one inning Monday -- with five coming on three swings in a nine-pitch sequence.
With no outs and the Orioles up, 4-1, in the fifth, left fielder Delmon Young hit a three-run shot to deep left field against Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi. J.J. Hardy followed five pitches later with a home run to right-center field, his eighth of the season. It chased Odorizzi (9-11), who allowed a career-high eight runs in just four-plus innings.
Kirby Yates replaced Odorizzi and, on his third pitch, served up Chris Davis' 22nd homer of the season. It was the first time the Orioles had hit three straight homers since Ryan Flaherty, Hardy and Nick Markakis did it against the Rangers on May 10, 2012.
It was the first time the Orioles had hit consecutive homers since, well, Monday's third inning against Odorizzi. Nick Markakis hit a two-run homer to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead, and Steve Pearce followed with his 15th of the season. It extended Pearce's career-high-tying, eight-game hitting streak. During that span, Pearce has five doubles and four homers.
The last time the Orioles had multiple back-to-back homers was May 27, 2008 against the Yankees when Kevin Millar and Ramon Hernandez and then Luke Scott and Millar achieved the feat.
Monday's power show wasn't really needed with the way Chris Tillman was throwing, continuing a run this month in which he is 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA. But he did have to pitch from behind for a brief period.
The Rays scored first, aided by two plays that the Orioles defense should have made, but didn't.
Yunel Escobar led off the third with a grounder to the left side of the infield. Hardy ranged far into the hole, fielded the ball and made a long, one-hop throw. Pearce stretched for it at first base, but the ball hit off his glove and bounced away for a single.
Jose Molina then hit a sharp grounder to Hardy that could have been a double play, but second baseman Jonathan Schoop failed to catch Hardy's feed and the ball rolled into the outfield as Escobar advanced to third.
Tillman then induced Sean Rodriguez to hit into a double play, but Escobar scored the game's first run. It was the last one Tillman (11-5) would give up. He lasted seven solid innings, allowing three hits, two walks and one unearned run.
In his last 13 starts -- 11 of them quality -- Tillman is 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA.
The Orioles made up for the defensive lapse in the third with several gems later in the night. None was more impressive than center fielder Adam Jones' leaping grab at the wall of Evan Longoria's potential three-run homer in the sixth. Jones then fired a bullet to second base to get Matt Joyce attempting to tag up.
The crowd may have been small, but it was spirited.
It gave Jones a standing ovation as he came off the field in the top of the sixth and then cheered him again as he led off in the bottom of the inning.
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