BALTIMORE (AP) — Every once in a while, Chris Davis conjures memories of last season by effortlessly launching a baseball far over the outfield wall.
Davis interrupted his frustrating season with such a moment Saturday, hitting a two-run homer off knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to carry the Baltimore Orioles past the skidding Toronto Blue Jays 3-2.
Davis batted .286 with 53 home runs and 138 RBIs last year. This season, he’s at .228 with 11 long balls and 33 RBIs.
His work ethic, however, remains the same.
“There’s no change in my approach. I’ve been doing everything I can to try to get back to feeling good in the box,” Davis said. “I felt the last couple of days I’ve started to click a little bit. Didn’t have a lot to show for it.”
Davis ended an 0-for-9 drought with a drive that put the Orioles up 3-1 in the fifth.
“Big home run for the team in the situation, and the individual,” teammate Adam Jones said. “He’s been grinding it out.”
Orioles starter Bud Norris (6-5) gave up one run and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings to win his third straight start. The right-hander extended an impressive run by Orioles starters, who have allowed two runs or fewer in 13 of the last 16 games.
“We’re all out there to help each other and get better,” Norris said. “Right now we’re kind of cruising.”
After Toronto closed to 3-2 in the eighth, Zach Britton got three outs for his seventh save.
Brett Lawrie had two hits and an RBI for the Blue Jays, who have lost six of eight. The AL East leaders have scored only six runs in those six defeats.
“I thought we had pretty good ABs for the most part,” catcher Josh Thole said. “It’s tough when you’re not getting guys in.”
Dickey (6-5) left with right groin tightness after allowing three runs, two earned, and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. It was the first time this season he’s taken a loss when permitting as few as three runs.
Dickey felt a twinge after getting Manny Machado out, then left after taking a practice pitch.
“I didn’t want to jeopardize my next start,” Dickey said. “I was probably out of the game after that next batter, anyway. I decided it was probably in everybody’s best interest to just call it a day.”
Toronto nearly got Dickey off the hook.
In the seventh, Orioles reliever Darren O’Day retired Melky Cabrera on a grounder with two outs and two on. One inning later, Jose Bautista was thrown out in a very close play at the plate while trying to score on a double by Edwin Encarnacion.
Left fielder Nelson Cruz retrieved the ball and threw to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who fired the relay to catcher Nick Hundley.
“The big play in the game was obviously the relay throw,” Davis said. “That was a big hit for Encarnacion and a chance for them to get back into the game and get really good momentum in their dugout.”
Lawrie followed with an RBI single.
The Blue Jays stranded nine and went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
“This has been a tough run here so we need to hopefully regroup,” Thole said. “We’re playing behind every night.”
With the score 1-all in the fifth, Jones hit a grounder to third. The throw by Juan Francisco bounced past first base, and Jones lightly pushed umpire Hunter Wendelstedt while rounding the bag. The umpire toppled backward onto the infield dirt but was not hurt.
Davis followed by hitting a 1-0 pitch over the center field wall and into the Baltimore bullpen.
“We got burned by the home run ball,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
Earlier, Dickey got into trouble in the first inning when Nick Markakis led off with an infield hit and Machado doubled. But Jones, Davis and Cruz followed with popups.
In the Toronto second, Norris hit Lawrie with a pitch before walking Thole with the bases loaded.
Baltimore tied it in the fourth when Hundley delivered a sacrifice fly following singles by Delmon Young and Ryan Flaherty.
NOTES: Toronto DH Adam Lind left with a bruised right foot. … The Blue Jays activated RHP Sergio Santos (right elbow) from the DL and optioned OF Darin Mastroianni to Triple-A Buffalo. Santos was needed in the bullpen after LHP Brett Cecil left Friday’s game with groin tightness. Cecil will rest for a few days before being reevaluated. … Jones went 0 for 3 against Dickey and is 3 for 22 lifetime against the knuckleballer. … Toronto is 34-17 when hitting a HR and 6-13 without one.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)