BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles aren’t waiting until September to mount a run at the playoffs.
“Trust me, it’s been on,” manager Buck Showalter said after Sunday’s 10-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics. “You grind for February, March, April, May, June, July and August to have a chance to roll the dice the last five weeks, and that’s where we are.”
Chris Davis collected his 118th RBI, and J.J. Hardy, Nick Markakis and Nate McLouth homered for the Orioles, who took two of three from Oakland to move within two games of the Athletics in the race for the second AL wild-card slot.
“It’s huge for us,” said Manny Machado, who had two RBIs. “Any win from now on is going to count for us at the end of the road.”
After taking Monday off, the Orioles have three games in Boston, three at Yankee Stadium and three at Cleveland.
“We’ve just got to carry this momentum on this next road trip,” said Markakis, who ended a lengthy power outage with his first extra-base hits since July 19. “We’ve got a tough road trip, every team we’re playing is in it. We’ve got a pretty hectic little schedule at the end of the year, and we all realize that.”
Machado said: “From now on we’re going to be playing top-of-the-line teams. It’s going to be coming down to teams we’re fighting for a playoff spot.”
Josh Donaldson homered for the Athletics, who have lost four of five.
“They’re a good team, and we’re a good team as well, and we just didn’t play like we’re capable of,” losing pitcher Sonny Gray said. “It started with me in the first inning.”
After Oakland scored in the top of the first, Baltimore answered with two in the bottom half and never trailed again.
In his first three major league starts, Gray (1-2) allowed a total of four earned runs and 10 hits over 21 innings. In this one, he didn’t make it out of the fourth.
The 2011 first-round draft pick was vying to become the first major leaguer since Wayne Simpson in 1970 to begin his career with four consecutive starts of six innings while permitting four hits or fewer. That pursuit ended in the second, when the right-hander gave up three hits and fell behind 5-1.
Oakland had gone 105 straight games since April 25 without allowing 10 runs. Gray absorbed the brunt of the damage, yielding six runs and eight hits in 3 1-3 innings.
Scott Feldman (4-3) gave up one run in five innings for the Orioles. The right-hander gave up three hits, walked four, hit a batter, committed a balk and needed 102 pitches to get 15 outs.
“It wasn’t the prettiest outing,” he said. “It was a battle from the get-go.”
Baltimore got contributions from almost everyone in the lineup. Hardy had three hits, including his 23rd home run. Machado hit two sacrifice flies and Brian Roberts scored twice and drove in a run.
Although Davis did not add to his major league-leading home run total of 46, he raised his batting average to .304. His 118 RBIs are 33 more than his previous career high.
Ten of Feldman’s first 12 pitches were out of the strike zone. He walked two in the first inning and yielded an RBI single to Alberto Callaspo.
Baltimore responded in the bottom half. Successive singles by Machado, Davis and Adam Jones produced a run, and Matt Wieters followed with a sacrifice fly.
The Orioles made it 5-1 in the second. Roberts hit an RBI single, Machado delivered a run-scoring flyout and Davis foiled a shift to the right side by lining an RBI single through the infield and into left field.
A walk, a double by McLouth and another sacrifice fly by Machado made it 6-1 in the fourth and ended Gray’s afternoon. His ERA jumped from 1.44 to 3.18.
“I don’t think anybody goes through their career without getting hit some,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He’ll probably be better for it next time.”
Hardy hit a solo shot in the sixth and Donaldson connected with a man on in the eighth.
Markakis and McLouth homered in the bottom of the eighth. Markakis’ third-inning double ended a run of 126 at-bats without an extra-base hit.
NOTES: Oakland RF Josh Reddick left with an injured right wrist. “See where we’re at tomorrow, re-evaluate and go from there,” he said. … The Athletics head to Detroit, where they start a four-game series Monday night against the AL Central leaders. Baltimore gets Monday off before opening an important three-game set against AL East-leading Boston at Fenway Park. … Melvin left Oakland OF Yoenis Cespedes out of Sunday’s starting lineup to give the struggling slugger an “off day mentally just as much as physically.” Cespedes was 0 for 9 in the first two games of the series. . Orioles RHP Jason Hammel (flexor strain) threw around 60 pitches on the side Sunday and will begin his rehabilitation assignment Thursday with Triple-A Bowie. … Baltimore finished 21-12 against AL West, including 5-2 against Oakland.
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