As soon as Chris Davis made contact, there was absolutely no doubt where the ball was headed: beyond the 25-foot scoreboard in right field and onto Eutaw Street.
The drive also landed Davis in the Baltimore Orioles’ record book.
Davis’ major league leading 46th home run helped Baltimore beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Wednesday night and enabled the Orioles to avoid a three-game sweep.
Davis connected against Jeremy Hellickson (10-7) leading off the fifth inning to put Baltimore in front 4-2. It was the 74th homer in the 22-year history of Camden Yards to land on Eutaw Street, and one of the quickest to arrive there.
”You know what? I come up here to go to the bathroom so I just heard it,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Davis tied Jim Gentile for the third-most home runs in a year by an Oriole. Gentile hit 46 in 1961, Frank Robinson clubbed 49 in 1966, and Brady Anderson set the team mark with 50 in 1996.
Davis has 25 homers at Camden Yards, tied with Rafael Palmeiro for most in one year. The single-season record for homers in Baltimore is 27, by Robinson at Memorial Stadium in 1966.
”It means we put up one run on the board and we were able to get the win. That’s the biggest thing,” Davis said. ”Obviously team goals come before individual goals. I’m happy to be swinging the bat well, I’m even happier to get the win.”
Wei-Yin Chen (7-6) gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings to help Baltimore win for only the third time in nine games.
”Big win,” said catcher Matt Wieters, who sealed the victory with a brilliant throw in the ninth inning. ”You like to get a series, but the only thing we could do tonight was win one game. We came out here and played well.”
Chen was backed by three double plays, two of which he started.
”How many athletic plays did he make tonight that pitchers don’t make?” manager Buck Showalter said. ”It’s one thing to catch it, it’s another thing to make that accurate throw.”
Darren O’Day worked a perfect eighth and gave up a leadoff single to Wil Myers in the ninth before Brian Matusz walked pinch-hitter James Loney. Tommy Hunter then got two straight outs, and with runners on the corners, Kelly Johnson was thrown out by Wieters trying to steal second.
It was Hunter’s fourth save.
Baltimore’s usual closer, Jim Johnson, didn’t get up in the bullpen. Johnson had blown three straight save opportunities and surrendered three hits in a non-save situation Tuesday.
”We’re going to put our best foot forward every night,” Showalter said. ”Jimmy’s our best option, one of them. I’m glad we’ve got more than one good option.”
Jason Bourgeois and Sean Rodriguez hit solo homers for the Rays, whose second loss in eight games left them a game behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
”A division series and you win two out of three games, that’s a good spot to be in,” Kelly Johnson said. ”We’ll take it. Obviously, you want to win them all, but it didn’t work out.”
Hellickson allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings. The right-hander is 0-4 with an 8.06 ERA in five starts since July 26.
The Orioles used a two-run first inning to take their first lead in the series. After Nate McLouth led off with a single to snap an 0-for-17 skid, Manny Machado singled and Davis walked to load the bases. Adam Jones drove in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder, and Wieters hit a sacrifice fly following a double steal.
Bourgeois hit a solo shot in second. It was his third career homer, the first since 2011 with Houston.
In the bottom half, the Orioles loaded the bases with two outs for Davis, who hit a routine fly to left.
Jones made it 3-1 in the third with his 26th home run, a drive to dead center that traveled an estimated 446 feet.
”Oh, that one was definitely filled with helium,” Maddon said. ”That ball did not want to come down.”
Rodriguez answered in the fourth with his third homer, the first since May 26.
NOTES: The Orioles had lost five straight to Tampa Bay at Camden Yards, including the first two games of this series by a combined 11-5 score. … Rays LHP Matt Moore, who has been on the DL since July 31 with a sore elbow, threw 59 pitches during a bullpen session Wednesday. He is slated to pitch a simulated game on Saturday. … Both teams are off Thursday. Tampa Bay resumes play Friday at home against the Yankees and the Orioles host Oakland, one of the teams they are chasing for a wild-card spot. Maddon said Chris Archer (6-5) will start Friday night.