Davis breaks homerless streak to give Orioles win

Davis breaks homerless streak to give Orioles win
July 30, 2013, 11:00 pm
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Davis breaks out of slump with HR against Houston

BALTIMORE –- Through 10 homerless games, Chris Davis kept his sense of humor. After his 38th, he let loose.

Davis drove a two-run home run that landed barely into the left field stands in the sixth inning as the Orioles beat the Houston Astros 4-3 before 24,904 on Tuesday night.

Fans may have gotten spoiled by 37 home runs in the first 96 games. Dreaming of a 60 home run season, they cringed when Davis accumulated strikeout after strikeout since the All-Star Game without hitting a home run.

“Oh, I’m so happy. I can go home and sleep tonight and just eat food again. I don’t have to wake up every three hours and cry,” Davis joked.

He struck out again for the 23rd straight game, extending his club record. Davis also walked twice for the first time since June 11.

“There wasn’t a lot of offense on our end tonight,” Davis said.

There wasn’t. The Orioles (59-48) had just three hits, but two of them were huge. Davis’ homer drove in two and J.J. Hardy’s single scored the first two.

Fans were worried about Davis. The home run hitting contest had taken the zest out of the slugger, they thought. The blister he swung with had hurt him.

Not so, Davis said.

“I’ve felt good at the plate. It’s not like I’ve felt terrible. But I’ve just been way too aggressive and way too aggressive on balls out of the zone. That’s something that everybody in our lineup has to realize. Teams aren’t just going to go up there and roll the ball the ball up there for us. We’re going to have to work for everything we get and that was my goal today, to kind of be a little bit more patient and it obviously paid off.”

Wei-Yin Chen retired the first seven batters of the game. Matt Dominguez, Robbie Grossman and Jonathan Villar singled to load the bases. Jose Altuve singled for two runs, and Jason Castro walked to reload the bases.

With Chris Carter at bat, Villar shockingly took off from third on a 1-2 count and executed a rare straight steal of home and a 3-0 Astros (35-70) lead.

“That was embarrassing and that’s a lesson I need to learn. I looked down and I had no clue he was going to home. The only thing I was really concentrated on was home plate,” Chen said through his translator. 

Chen (6-3) won his third game since returning from nearly two months on the disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle. He pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out nine.

He threw a career-high 119 pitches.

“To be honest with you, I’m a little tired right now. This was the first time I threw that many [pitches] in the U.S., but I definitely felt really strong and really good,” Chen said.

Showalter is always wary about relieving a pitcher when he’s rolling.

“There's a karma change when you take a guy out of a game who's pitching real well,” Showalter said.

“With the number of innings he's thrown this year being way down and working on an extra days rest, those things come into play before we go out on the field. I didn't think it was a particularly laborious outing with the exception of one or maybe two innings.”

Darren O’Day relieved Chen and retired his only two batters. Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his 36th save.

Lucas Harrell heard that he’d start instead of Bud Norris late Tuesday morning. Norris is definitely in play in the trade market, and the Orioles are one of several teams interested in him, and Houston scratched him.

Harrell, who allowed two runs, one unearned in seven innings on June 4 against the Orioles, walked four batters before he allowed a hit. Hardy’s bases-loaded single drove in Manny Machado and Davis in the fourth.

In the sixth, Nick Markakis walked to lead off, and then after Villar made a brilliant play on Villar’s line drive, Davis hit the home run.

Harrell (5-11) was hooked after the home run. He threw 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on two hits. He walked five and struck out three.

NOTES: Miguel Gonzalez (8-4, 3.69) faces Erik Bedard (3-8, 4.28) on Wednesday night.

-Drungo Hazewood, who played in six games with the Orioles in 1980, died on Sunday of pancreatic cancer. The 1977 first-round draft choice was 53.

-Brian Roberts may miss some time for a good reason. His wife Diana is about to deliver their first child, a son.

-Ryan Flaherty started at first base for the first time in his major league career as Davis was the designated hitter.