Baseball / Sports

Struggling Chris Davis comes through in grand fashion for Orioles in 9-1 win over Twins

BALTIMORE -- While Chris Davis' season has been a struggle at the plate, his batting average floundering at just .188 entering Friday's game against the Minnesota Twins, the Orioles first baseman still can change a game with one swing of his bat.

Davis crushed a fourth-inning grand slam off Twins right-hander Trevor May, capping a five-run fourth inning in a 9-1 drubbing of Minnesota before an announced 27,464 at Camden Yards.

With their fourth win in five games, the Orioles have won 19 of their past 25 at home.

Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez held the Twins to one run in seven innings, the seventh start in his past eight in which he has allowed two runs or fewer.

The Orioles took advantage of command woes from May, who was making his fifth major league start for a Twins club that offered few familiar names. Even though May struck out eight batters in four innings -- striking out the side twice -- he struggled to find the strike zone in a fateful fourth inning.

After third baseman Jimmy Paredes, in his first at-bat since replacing an injured Steve Pearce, opened the inning with a single, May hit center fielder Adam Jones with a pitch on the left thigh, then plunked designated hitter Nelson Cruz in the left elbow to load the bases.

May then walked shortstop J.J. Hardy on four pitches to score the first run of the game, bringing Davis to the plate with the bases loaded.

One day earlier, in a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, Davis was intentionally walked to bring up Hardy, who went on to record the go-ahead hit.

There was no sense in walking Davis this time, and May made a critical mistake on a 3-1 fastball, throwing a 92-mph offering over the plate and just above the knees.

Davis blasted the pitch into the right-center-field stands for the Orioles' fifth grand slam of the season. It was Davis' 24th homer this year, second grand slam of the season and fourth of his career.

It was also Davis' third homer in his past five games. Over his past 15 games, three of Davis' past seven hits have been homers.

The Orioles plated three more runs in the fifth, capped by Delmon Young's two-run homer off May, which chased his from the game after 4 2/3 innings.

Nick Markakis opened the inning with a leadoff double into the right-center-field gap and scored two batters later on Jones' RBI single.

Young then turned on a 1-1 pitch from May for his seventh homer of the season despite an outstanding effort by Twins left fielder Jordan Schafer, who crashed into the fence and nearly caught Young's homer.

The play was reviewed, and replays appeared to show the ball had deflected off Schafer's glove and been caught by a fan reaching over the fence. But the play stood, indicating that there wasn't enough conclusive evidence to overturn the call.

The Orioles added one more run on Jonathan Schoop's sixth-inning RBI double off Samuel Deduno, a line drive that skipped past a diving Danny Santana in center field.

The Twins' only run came on Trevor Plouffe's solo homer off Gonzalez in the seventh.

Otherwise, Gonzalez made fast work of Minnesota, constantly working ahead of Twins hitters. He threw 19 of 26 first-pitch strikes while recording his first start of seven or more innings since July 22.

In his past eight major league starts, dating to July 5, Gonzalez has a 2.33 ERA.

Left-hander Brian Matusz threw two perfect innings in relief, recording three strikeouts and extending the Orioles' bullpen's scoreless-inning streak to 16 1/3 innings.

Pearce, one of the team's hottest hitters, left the game before the top of the fourth inning with a right abdominal strain. He made a nice defensive play in the second inning. Pearce also ranged to his right for the final out of the third inning on a grounder by Santana, throwing across his body to Gonzalez, who was covering first base.

(c)2014 The Baltimore Sun

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