Slumping Davis hits go-ahead homer as O's stun Padres 8-5
(AP Photo/Orlando Ramirez)
By BERNIE WILSON
AP Sports Writer
SAN DIEGO (AP) Already saddled with a silver sombrero - three strikeouts - that ran his slump to 0 for 18, Chris Davis seemed the unlikeliest of the Baltimore Orioles to hit a go-ahead home run.
The lefty did just that, though, driving a slider from left-handed reliever Matt Strahm to straightaway center field with one out in the eighth inning for the Orioles, who rallied from a four-run deficit to beat the San Diego Padres 8-5 on Tuesday.
"It felt great," Davis said. "I felt like I had a couple opportunities today to cash in with runners on base in a big spot. Obviously the home run came at a pretty crucial time in the game. I was just battling all day, really the last few days, to get back in my groove. It felt good to put a good swing on the ball and see it jump."
Just his eighth homer this season, the drivet gave Baltimore a 6-5 lead. Davis is hitting .181 and struck out 14 times during the slide, raising his season total to 105 in 232 at-bats.
The 33-year-old slugger said the recent stretch has been "taxing."
"I feel like I have more gray hair than I started the season with. I think it was to be expected, but it's always harder going through it no matter how you try to prepare yourself," he said.
"Obviously he's been struggling, and for him to get a home run to give us the lead late where we've battled back, that's a great feeling for him," manager Brandon Hyde said. "The guys were really excited for him. I know it means a lot to him."
Baltimore added on with a two-run single by Trey Mancini off Michel Baez, saddling Strahm (4-8) with five runs in 1 2/3 innings. Strahm allowed five hits while striking out four and walking one.
Baltimore split this two-game series and avoided a four-game season sweep. San Diego lost for the 12th time in 17 games since the All-Star break.
The comeback spoiled a milestone day for Padres rookie Fernando Tatis Jr., who at 20 years, 209 days became the youngest player in major league history to hit leadoff homers in consecutive games.
Tatis homered on the fourth pitch from rookie Tom Eshelman, who grew up in northern San Diego County, driving it an estimated 435 feet over both bullpens in left-center. Manny Machado, the $300 million slugger, connected four pitches later against one of his former teams, going 399 feet into the second deck in left. It was the 19th for Tatis and 26th for Machado, who was traded from Baltimore to the Los Angeles Dodgers last July.
Atlanta's Ronald Acuna Jr. was 20 years, 239 days when he homered leading off both games of a doubleheader against Miami last Aug. 13. Acuna also homered leading off the following day and went on to win NL Rookie of the Year.
"I'm just happy. I think I'm blessed for it. I've just got to keep working even harder now," said Tatis, who has jumped into the rookie of the year conversations despite missing 34 games earlier this season with a hamstring injury.
Tatis, the son of the former big league infielder, has four of San Diego's five leadoff homers this year.
"It's an amazing feeling, especially to start a game that way," he said. "The team is sky high. We are already 1-0, which is pretty good."
Tatis joined Shin-Soo Choo, Miguel Rojas and Acuna as the only players with leadoff homers in back-to-back games this season.
Tatis and Franmil Reyes homered on David Hess' first two pitches on Monday night, when the Padres scored all their runs on five homers in an 8-1 victory.
The Padres' 16 homers vs. Orioles this year set a big league record for a season series of four or fewer games.
Wil Myers added an RBI double in the first. Francisco Mejia had a run-scoring grounder in the third and an RBI infield single in the fifth as the Padres took leads of 4-0 and 5-3.
Machado went 8 for 17 with two homers and three RBIs against the Orioles this season.
Eshelman left trailing 4-3 after four innings but got off the hook for the loss at the Orioles tied it at 5 in the seventh.
He said pitching at Petco Park, where he watched a lot of games while growing up, "was surreal for me. Not the way I planned the first inning going, but kind of went back in the dugout, took a deep breath and got back out there."
Baltimore began its comeback in the fourth with three runs on three hits and two walks off Dinelson Lamet. Jace Peterson hit an RBI single and Richie Martin had a two-run, bases-loaded single with two outs.
San Diego took a 5-3 lead on an unearned run in the fifth on Mejia's RBI infield single, but the Orioles tied it two innings later when Strahm gave up three hits, including Renato Nunez's two-run single.
Lamet allowed three runs and five hits in five innings.
Orioles: Placed OF Dwight Smith Jr. on the 10-day IL with a strained left calf and recalled RHP Chandler Shepherd from Triple-A Norfolk.
Orioles: Haven't announced a starter for Thursday night's opener of a home four-game series against Toronto.
Padres: LHP Joey Lucchesi (7-5, 4.12) is scheduled to start Thursday night's opener of a four-game series at the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
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Updated July 30, 2019