Khris Davis took back sole possession of the Major League home run lead on Thursday with two homers as the Oakland Athletics socked another five dingers, then held on late for an 8-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles to win the final three games of the four-game set at Camden Yards.
Davis gave Oakland (9-8) the lead with a two-run shot in the fourth off Orioles starter Dylan Bundy, then took him deep again in the sixth to extend the lead to 5-1. Davis — who has more home runs than any other big leaguer over the last three-plus seasons — now has nine longballs on the season, two ahead of Seattle’s Jay Bruce and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, and now has 202 for his career, with 142 coming since the start of the 2016 season.
Oakland’s lead grew to six as Kendrys Morales followed Davis with a back-to-back blast, his first homer as an Athletic, and Jurickson Profar added on a sac fly to cap off the sixth inning after Chad Pinder singled and advanced to third on an error by center fielder Cedric Mullins.
A’s starter Aaron Brooks even got into the seventh inning, but things got hairy as he walked Rio Ruiz and saw former A’s prospect Renato Nunez single to center on a ball that Ramon Laureano lost in the daytime sky.
That prompted manager Bob Melvin to pull Brooks for J.B. Wendelken, and while Wendelken has been one of Oakland’s more reliable relievers so far, he couldn’t find his command on Thursday, walking Chris Davis — still mired in his record hitless streak — to load the bases and hitting Pedro Severino with a pitch to cut it to 7-2.
Lou Trivino then came in and got Richie Martin to pop out, but a wild pitch, a Mullins RBI groundout and a Dwight Smith Jr. double cut the lead to two before Stephen Piscotty made the play of the day — a diving catch in right to rob Jonathan Villar of a hit and prevent Baltimore (5-8) from cutting the lead to one.
The A’s still weren’t out of the woods, as they squandered a chance to add on in the eighth after a Pinder double put men on second and third with no outs. Tanner Scott then fanned Profar on a fastball, and Jimmy Yacabonis got Laureano to bounce into a fielder’s choice as the A’s paid for neglecting to run for Morales. Josh Phegley popped out to end the inning.
Reliever Joakim Soria quickly found himself in a jam in the bottom half of the frame, allowing a one-out walk to Ruiz and Nunez reaching on a Marcus Semien error. That brought the Orioles’ Davis up with a chance to be a hero, but Soria froze him with a pitch on the low-outside corner and got Jesus Sucre to fly out to end the inning.
Semien quickly atoned for his error, taking Baltimore’s top reliever, Mychal Givens, deep for an insurance run, and closer Blake Treinen showed some of his best stuff in the bottom of the ninth to pick up his fourth save of the year, striking out Martin and Mullins before Matt Chapman, brought in as a defensive replacement after getting most of the day off, tracked down Smith’s foul pop-up to end the game.
Smith had homered to put the hosts up in the bottom of the first on a day where longballs would be the common theme. Bundy, a one-time top prospect, cruised through his first three innings before allowing the first of Davis’ two homers and a two-run shot to Phegley an inning later. It’s already the third homer of the year for Phegley, who hit just two last year and three in 2017.
Though the two runners that were on base when he left the game ended up scoring, Brooks turned in a fine outing, allowing three walks and three hits over six-plus innings, with the last of those hits coming on what should have been a routine flyout. He also struck out three and set the Orioles down in order four times, including a stretch where he retired 10 straight batters between the third and the sixth. The first of those 10 was the red-hot Trey Mancini, who grounded out to end the third after a Smith walk and Villar single loaded the bases. Mancini went 0-for-4 on the day, as did Martin, who had three hits on Monday in Baltimore’s lone win of the series.