BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles have come to expect home runs from Chris Davis, who delivered a much-needed clout in the seventh inning of a tight game against the Cleveland Indians.
What happened next came as a complete surprise.
Light-hitting Alexi Casilla capped a five-run seventh with a three-run homer, and the Orioles broke a four-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory Tuesday night.
Davis tied the game at 3 with his major league-leading 28th home run, a two-run shot. Casilla hadn’t homered all season before crushing a pitch from Justin Masterson (9-6).
On a team that leads the majors in home runs, contact can come from anyone — even the No. 9 batter in the order.
“That takes pressure off the big guys, to know that we’ve got other guys who can contribute, and do contribute,” leadoff hitter Nate McLouth said. “Alexi came up huge tonight.”
Much to the delight of his teammates, who have come to appreciate the hard-working backup second baseman.
“It was awesome,” Davis said. “I think everybody’s pulling for him right there, obviously trying, hoping that he’ll just get a base hit. Then he does that, provided a little bit of a jolt of adrenaline for everybody.”
It was Casilla’s first home run since August 8, 2012 — also off Masterson. That was enough to end a four-game skid in which Baltimore lost three games to Toronto and another to Cleveland by a combined 29-15 score.
“I feel great to hit that home run after we lost four games,” Casilla said through interpreter Einar Diaz. “I felt like I had to come and do something for the team and I did it that time.”
Chris Tillman (9-2) gave up three runs, four hits and four walks in seven innings to win his fifth straight start. The right-hander is 6-0 in seven starts since May 19.
He was in position to lose until Davis and Casilla went deep.
“Awesome, awesome,” Tillman said. “Last year, I think it’s every night, it’s somebody new, somebody else. It’s good to see. This is a pretty tight-knit team and we enjoy seeing that. It’s fun for all of us.”
Jim Johnson pitched the ninth for his 27th save.
Jason Kipnis homered, walked twice and singled for the Indians, who were seeking a fourth straight road victory for the first time since April 2012.
Masterson, who was perfect through four innings, took a three-hitter into the seventh but ended up allowing six runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings.
“It’s a good lineup,” the right-hander said. “Everything was working well through six innings. Unfortunately we got to the seventh. Then it wasn’t working as well.”
The Baltimore seventh began with Masterson hitting Adam Jones with a pitch and Davis sending the right-hander’s next offering into the bleachers. After Matt Wieters drew a walk and Chris Dickerson reached on a check-swing grounder, both runners moved up on a wild pitch.
Then Casilla cleared the bases.
“When he threw the breaking ball that went to the backstop, now we have to play kind of halfway,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “He tried to be fine and threw a breaking ball to Casilla that was in the middle of the plate.”
And although Casilla had only 11 career homers — now an even dozen — he put a good enough swing on the slider to put it in the seats.
“That’s what we talked about before the series to all our pitchers,” Francona said. “When you let them get their arms extended, especially in this ballpark, they are very dangerous 1 through 9.”
Cleveland used a single, two walks and a sacrifice fly by Michael Brantley to go up 1-0 in the first inning.
In the second, the Indians put runners at the corners with no outs but could not score. After allowing six of the first 12 Cleveland batters to reach base, Tillman retired the next six in a row.
The streak ended in the fifth inning, when Michael Bourn led off with a double and Kipnis hit a 3-1 pitch into the left-field seats.
Baltimore got a run back in the bottom half. Jones singled, took third on a single by Davis and scored on a grounder by J.J. Hardy.
NOTES: Cleveland dropped to 11-2 on the road when leading after six innings. … Jason Hammel, who’s 0-3 with a 6.20 ERA lifetime against the Indians, takes the mound for the Orioles on Wednesday night. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Indians. … The Orioles signed their top two draft picks, RHP Hunter Harvey and OF Josh Hart. … Cleveland’s Mike Aviles snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a first-inning single. … Masterson and Tillman both yielded home runs for the first time since June 9.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)