ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Baltimore Orioles got to see what they've been missing the past four months, and it was a sight to behold.
First baseman Glenn Davis, who was making his second start since returning from the disabled list, drove in five runs to match a career high and carried the club to a 8-6 victory over the Texas Rangers last night at Arlington Stadium.
Davis drove in two runs with a double in the first inning and brought the Orioles back from a three-run deficit with a long home run off Rangers starter Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd in the fifth. vTC Leo Gomez followed with a tie-breaking home run an inning later, as the Orioles broke a four-game losing streak.
"I didn't expect to have that good a night," said Davis, who had four homers and eight RBI when he went on the disabled list in April. "I was taking it one thing at a time. But it's good for me and good for my confidence. It lets me know that I haven't lost any power."
The Orioles offensive show also included an insurance home run by Chris Hoiles in the ninth and a three-hit performance by Cal Ripken, who raised his average to .329 and moved back among the top five hitters in the American League.
After the 12-hit attack, Oates had to resist the urge to consider what a healthy Davis might have meant to his lineup when there was still time to get back into the division race.
"I thought about it for just a second," he said, "but that doesn't do you any good. That's in the past.
"But I'll tell you this. Two National League guys came up to me during spring training and said, 'That man can carry you all by himself.' He's an impact player. Him hitting in the middle of the lineup makes us a whole different ballclub. It gives everybody a lot of confidence that we're going to score some runs."
Orioles right-hander Dave Johnson, who had been moved out of the starting rotation to make way for the future, bailed out starter Jose Mesa with four shutout innings to earn his fourth victory. Left-hander Mike Flanagan had to come on in the ninth to bail out struggling stopper Gregg Olson, but all's well that ends well.
Olson doesn't get pulled out of a save situation very often, but he loaded the bases with one out before Flanagan came on to get Rafael Palmeiro to hit into a game-ending double play.
"I hope it's rare," said Oates. "The last three years, Gregg has been the guy we've given the ball to in the final inning. It just seems like he's in one of those streaks where whenever somebody hits the ball it turns out bad."
The series brought together two of the worst pitching staffs in the league (in terms of team ERA), and little happened last night to improve the fortunes of either. Mesa gave up six runs over four innings. Boyd was no more effective.
The Rangers acquired Boyd from the Montreal Expos for three minor-league players on July 21, hoping that he would bolster their starting rotation for a run at the American League West title. But instead, Boyd became an instant liability.
He came into last night's game with an 0-4 record and an 8.10 ERA as a Ranger and wasted no time showing why.
Orioles outfielder Joe Orsulak singled through the middle in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 18 games -- the longest by an Oriole since 1985 -- and Ripken followed with a base hit before Davis delivered a two-run double for his first RBI since April. Randy Milligan followed with a slicing single to right to give Mesa a three-run lead before he took the mound.
Davis started at first base in his second game back from the disabled list and has a four-game hitting streak that stretches over nearly four months. Milligan was the designated hitter in the Orioles new batting order, which bore a slight resemblance to the lineup the club had projected for Opening Day. Chito Martinez was the only newcomer, but the Milligan had started the season as an outfielder.
Mesa had opened the season in the starting rotation, but he was making his second start since being recalled from the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings. The first time, he pitched a three-hitter against the Rangers at Memorial Stadium, but they were not to be overmatched a second time.
Brian Downing cut the Orioles lead to one in the third with a two-run home run that landed on the top of the fence in left center field. Kevin Reimer followed with a three-run moonshot to right as the Rangers batted around to take the lead.
Oates said before the game that he was going to let his young starters try to work their way out of trouble in the early innings. He was true to his word, letting Mesa finish the third and work through another difficult situation in the fourth.
Shortstop Jose Hernandez drew a leadoff walk and Downing followed with a single to left, setting up the Rangers to score a run on a pair of fly balls -- the second a long sacrifice fly by Palmeiro. But Boyd, who had settled down after the Orioles three-run first, gave up the three-run shot to Davis in the fifth to tie the game.
Mesa did not come out for the fifth. He gave up six runs on seven hits over four innings before turning the game over to Johnson. Boyd departed after the fifth, giving way to reliever Wayne Rosenthal, who gave up the tie-breaking home run to Gomez in the sixth.