By Brittany Ghiroli and Connor Smolensky
BALTIMORE -- J.J. Hardy broke a tie with his fourth homer of the season to lift the Orioles to a 4-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday night.
Hardy hit a two-run shot off Rangers starter Nick Martinez in the seventh inning, with Jimmy Paredes also going deep for the O's in the fourth. Chris Davis, who extended his hitting streak to a career-high-tying 11 games, singled and scored on Hardy's blast.
"Yeah, I mean, I just felt like I saw it pretty well out of his hand," Hardy said of the homer. "I was able to put a good swing on it."
A Rangers club that hit eight home runs in the first two games of the series went deep twice, with solo shots from Ryan Rua and Shin-Soo Choo. But that was all Texas could muster off Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who cruised through eight innings.
"Most of them are looking for fastballs," Chen said through his interpreter, "and they know I'm a fastball pitcher and they didn't want to fall behind. So, most of them were swinging early in the count."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Chen breezes through eight: Despite the pair of homers, Chen breezed through most of the evening, needing just 87 pitches. He retired 13 of his final 14 batters and lowered his ERA to 2.84 with the win. More >
"Early in the game I didn't feel that great, but my teammates made great plays behind me," Chen said. "That's why I keep going out there and was able to make an adjustment and be better and better."
Choo rides the homer train: Choo hit a solo home run to right-center in the third inning, marking his third consecutive game with a home run. It was the second time Choo has homered in three straight games, with the last coming on April 4-6 in 2013 while with Cincinnati. The last Ranger to homer in three consecutive games was Adrian Beltre on Sept. 1-3 in 2012.
"The ballpark is a little bit of help," Choo said. "I hit good, but probably they're not home runs in Arlington."
Martinez runs into trouble in 7th: Martinez did not face more than four batters in an inning until the seventh, when he ran into some trouble. After giving up a leadoff single to Chris Davis and getting Chris Parmelee to fly out to center, Martinez gave up a two-run home run to Hardy. The right-hander went 6 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits, four runs (three earned), a walk and two home runs while striking out five. More >
"I think it is a really good step in the right direction," Martinez said. "My last couple of outings, I lost my feel for the zone a little. Today I felt a whole lot better getting ahead of guys and getting some early contact. Even though it didn't turn out my way, I feel good."
Machado's ridiculous plays: Despite getting off to a rocky start defensively this season, Manny Machado's glove is as strong as ever. The young infielder put on a clinic at third base on Wednesday, making a barehanded play on Rua's ball for the first out of the seventh and diving into the shift to snag Choo's ball and throw him out at first. More >
"I love watching him play," Hardy said of Machado. "He does things every night that amaze me, and he does a lot of things that other third basemen can't do."
There was a crew chief review on Rua's homer in the fourth inning, which hit the top of the ground-crew shed in right-center field. The call was confirmed.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: The Rangers will send Yovani Gallardo (7-6, 2.72 ERA) to the mound for the series finale on Thursday at 6:05 p.m CT. The right-hander is coming off an 8 1/3-inning scoreless outing against the Blue Jays, which was his longest performance in more than four years. Gallardo heads into the game boasting a scoreless streak of 23 1/3 innings.
Orioles: Baltimore will send Kevin Gausman to the mound on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET for the spot start, which is due to Sunday's doubleheader. Gausman has made just one start for the O's this season, and he last pitched three innings on Sunday in Triple-A.