BALTIMORE -- An Orioles club that rallied from behind for the first two games of the series wasted no time Sunday afternoon, scoring in the first three innings and recording a mammoth nine-run fifth to cruise to an 18-2 victory over the A's. With the win, coupled with the Angels' 4-3 loss to the Royals in 10 innings on Sunday, Baltimore has sole possession of the second American League Wild Card spot.
Baltimore tied a club record -- set in 1980 -- with 26 hits and had eight of its nine starters record at least two hits in the onslaught, which eventually saw Oakland send position player Ike Davis to the mound. Gerardo Parra tied a career high with five hits, Caleb Joseph had a career-high four-RBI afternoon and Adam Jones homered twice for the O's.
"At this point, we still kind of determine our own destiny, and that's how we like it," Joseph said of an Orioles team, winners of three straight, right in the thick of the American League Wild Card race. "We just have to go out there and keep getting good starting pitching, timely hits and play good defense. It's like a broken record, but when this team does those things, we have a really good chance at winning. There's not 25 people in the City of Baltimore that want to do it more than us, so we're trying our best to really make a push here. It's really now or never. So let's get after it."
O's starter Wei-Yin Chen pitched six innings and allowed two runs, including Brett Lawrie's solo shot in the fourth. Oakland starter Kendall Graveman lasted just 3 1/3 innings and gave up six earned runs.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Wild fifth inning: The O's sent 13 batters to the plate and got four consecutive singles to start off the inning, totalling 18 hits on the afternoon before the start of the sixth. A's reliever Dan Otero suffered most of the damage and was charged with eight earned runs as the Orioles capitalized on some questionable defense to put the game out of reach.
"Long inning. Been on both sides of it, but it was good. It was more like follow the leader," Jones said. "The guy ahead of us was having a good at-bat, and I had a good at-bat myself. And the guys behind me, and the guys behind me." More >
Grave day: Graveman, who had allowed a combined five runs over his previous two starts spanning 10 1/3 innings, surrendered six against the Orioles in 3 1/3 innings, forcing the A's to quickly turn to a bullpen that didn't fare much better. For Otero, making his first appearance since returning from Triple-A Nashville, his eight runs allowed were a career high.
"It was tough to put my team in that position there," Graveman said. "I take full responsibility for what happened today. I put some guys in a bad position, especially coming out early.
"I didn't locate the fastball well. It had great movement, but I didn't locate it well, and I think that's one of those things that got me in trouble, and just not getting ahead of people again. For me, that's how I gotta pitch. I gotta locate the fastball and get ahead of hitters."
Ike takes the bump: A's first baseman Davis took the mound in the eighth inning for his second career relief appearance, having also pitched an inning in Anaheim in April. Davis, who made 37 pitching appearances in his time at Arizona State University, struck out one and allowed a double in a scoreless frame.
"You certainly need that at times," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You don't want to see it too often, and if anybody designated-pitcher-wise has the ability to do that, it's him. Usually lightens up the mood a little bit after what is a tough game. Maybe not so much today, but he certainly did his job." More >
Garcia hits:Jason Garcia, the Orioles' Rule 5 Draft pick, made his third appearance off the disabled list and second of the series in tossing two scoreless innings. Even more notable was Garcia getting his first career plate appearance after the O's lost the designated hitter in the bottom of the eighth. He faced Davis, to make it even more unique, and walked on four straight balls.
"Earlier in the year we took BP, and I thought being a long relief guy, getting innings, I'd get to bat. But they kind of told me, 'Don't even think about it'," Garcia said. "So I was really shocked [to get a plate appearance]." More >
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Baltimore is 37-5 in games in which Joseph has at least one RBI and 18-2 in games in which he has more than one.
The 26 hits allowed by A's pitchers are most in Oakland history and most in franchise history since April 23, 1955.
WHAT'S NEXT A's: The A's will look to salvage one win on the last day of their seven-game road trip Monday with American League ERA leader Sonny Gray on the mound at Camden Yards. Gray, who missed his last start because of back spasms, is 1-2 with a 7.04 ERA in three career starts against the Orioles. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. PT
Orioles: The Orioles will close the four-game wraparound series with Monday night's 7:05 p.m. ET game. Right-hander Chris Tillman will get the start on an extra day of rest. He's 8-7 with a 4.66 ERA on the season, but has had a much-improved second half.