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Must C Curtains: Davis rips three homers in O's win

BALTIMORE -- Chris Davis stood at his locker this spring -- in his first full season with the Orioles -- eager for the opportunity to get consistent at-bats and prove that he could be a successful everyday Major League player.

Those questions are diminishing with each powerful swing, as the red-hot Davis is front-and-center in helping the Orioles, who have a slew of doubters to prove wrong in their quest for the organization's first postseason berth in 15 years.

Davis had three monster swings on Friday night, single-handedly besting the Blue Jays to become the first Oriole since Nick Markakis on Aug. 22, 2006 to post a three-home run game.

His effort, coupled with the continued encouraging signs of an improved Zach Britton, fueled Baltimore's 6-4 win over Toronto at Camden Yards and kept a gutty Orioles team in the thick of the American League Wild Card race.

"Chris has been a contributor," manager Buck Showalter said of Davis, who posted the first three-homer game of his career and has gone deep five times in his last five games. "I know he gets frustrated some, but he hasn't given in all year. He's not one of those guys who just says, 'Well, it's just something that guys go through.' If you had that type of power, you would really be frustrated when you weren't making the contact he's capable of.

"But he's certainly got people's attention. He's been a big part of what we're trying to do here."

And that's to turn things around. Friday's win improved the Orioles to 68-57, one win shy of their season total from 2011. The O's, who have maintained all season that their goal is to win the division, remain five games back of the AL East-leading Yankees and picked up a game on second-place Tampa Bay, thanks to Davis' heroics.

On the heels of Adrian Beltre's three-homer game against them Wednesday night, the Orioles became the the first team in Major League history involved in back-to-back games in which a player hit three home runs, according to Elias.

Davis also became the fourth player in baseball history with a three-homer game and a win as a pitcher, joining Guy Hecker (1886), Babe Ruth (1930) and Jim Tobin (1942).

"It's been crazy," the 26-year-old Davis, acquired in a midseason trade last year with Texas, said of his season. "[I] played the outfield, obviously pitched, DH'd quite a bit. It's been a lot of fun. There's been some tough times, but I feel the good outweighs the bad by far.

"You know you're going to go out there and you're going to have some really bad nights. But the thing about it is, you keep your head up and you keep going. Buck has put me in the lineup on nights that I didn't think I should be in the lineup, after having some horrendous games, and I really appreciate that. I think that's big for a young player knowing that you're going to be in the lineup."

Davis, who established a career-high with his 22nd homer in the fourth inning, has been on a torrid pace, already eclipsing a career-high in RBIs entering Friday and pushing his homer total to 23 before the night was through.

Asked what he was thinking when the crowd of 25,754 at Camden Yards was on its feet for his final at-bat in the eighth, the outgoing Davis joked that he had wanted to work a walk. Davis instead struck out, denying his bid for a fourth homer.

"He had an outstanding night," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said after he watched from the opposing dugout as Davis drove two balls to right field and one to left. "And turns out to be the difference in this one."

Britton made sure it would, throwing 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball for his second consecutive quality outing since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk. Using his trademark sinker, the 24-year-old recorded 11 ground ball outs and struck out six, retiring 12 of 13 at one point.

"I would say a little more confident," Britton said of the difference in his recent outings. "I feel good out on the mound. It's just a matter of executing pitches. And right now I'm executing pitches a lot better. There's still some room for improvement, which is good."

Britton scattered four hits and struck out six, with the Orioles defense, particularly shortstop J.J. Hardy and second baseman Ryan Flaherty, making some great plays behind him. He allowed a second-inning run, with another scoring after he exited in favor of reliever Darren O'Day in the seventh, and got an ovation as he walked off the field.

But the loudest cheers came for Davis, who did a quick curtain call at the top step of the home dugout -- which sent the crowd into a frenzy -- following his two-run sixth-inning homer.

"I don't know if I handled it right," Davis said of his first career curtain call. "I kind of just popped out my head. I don't like the spotlight a lot, if you don't know that already. I just think these fans have been great. It was good to see a lot of people in the stands tonight. I think it's going to be crucial coming down the home stretch to have them behind us."

Davis got the scoring going with a solo shot in the second inning off Blue Jays starter Carlos Villanueva, sending the ball soaring onto Eutaw Street in right field. He followed that with a two-out homer in the fourth to break a 1-1 tie and give the Orioles a lead they would never relinquish.

After O'Day gave up an RBI double to Rajai Davis, Showalter summoned lefty Brian Matusz -- recalled prior to the game -- for his first Major League relief outing. Matusz delivered, striking out Colby Rasmus on three pitches to strand runners on second and third.

Orioles closer Jim Johnson picked up his 39th save -- tied for the Major League lead -- coming in for reliever Matt Lindstrom, who gave up a two-run homer to Jeff Mathis to start the inning.

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