ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. –- Before Saturday night’s game, Chris Davis had a special guest. Country singer Kacey Musgraves, who was giving a postgame concert at Tropicana Field is from the same area in Texas that Davis hails from chatted with him.
Davis had one of the bigger hits of the Orioles’ month when he connected on a fourth-inning grand slam, giving Miguel Gonzalez lots of breathing room on the way to a 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays before 24,327.
During Musgraves’ concert, she mentioned she visited with a player from the Orioles, drawing some boos from the crowd. “He did hit the grand slam,” she pointed out.
For one of the few times in recent weeks, the Orioles clubhouse was a jovial place.
Manager Buck Showalter said he was getting ready for the concert, too and concluded his postgame remarks by noting: “Right now, it’s all about Kacey Musgraves.”
Before Musgraves’ show, Gonzalez pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits, striking out five and walking one.
The win enabled the Orioles (47-49) to break their four-game losing streak.
Buck Showalter changed the lineup yet again as the Orioles used their 87th different lineup in 96 games. That’s the second most in baseball according to STATS LLC.
Showalter put David Lough in the leadoff spot against Erasmo Ramirez, who allowed just three hits in seven shutout innings against the Orioles on May 30.
Lough responded with a single to load the bases in the third ahead of Davis’ grand slam and an eighth inning triple. Lough was sliding into third when Logan Forsythe’s throw was wild, and he was able to score.
“I was pretty gassed coming around second. I'm not going to lie. I'm not used to running around the bases like that, but it was good. Once I saw the ball get away from third and I was able to score, it was a good feeling,” Lough said.
Ramirez (8-4) retired the first six Orioles. J.J. Hardy led off the third with a single. With one out, Jonathan Schoop singled, and Lough followed with another single to load the bases.
Chris Davis drilled his 22nd home run to right field, the fifth grand slam of his career, and the Orioles led 4-0.
“It was pretty big, especially with the way Miguel’s been throwing the ball against these guys. Everybody that inning did a great job of not trying to do too much, just taking what Ramirez gave them. And obviously with a full count and bases loaded, I know he’s not going to walk me, he’s not trying to walk me, so I just look for a pitch over the plate and I was able to put a good swing on it,” Davis said.
No runner reached third against Gonzalez (9-6) until Curt Casali hit a home run with one out in the eighth to cut the lead to 5-1.
“Coming into this game,the first couple innings I was getting hit hard but at guys who were making plays and I think that was the difference,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez was removed after 7 2/3 innings, allowing the run on five hits. He struck out five without walking a batter. It was his longest start since pitching eight against the Rays (49-50) on May 29. He has an 0.93 ERA in four starts against Tampa Bay this season and is 5-2 with a 1.92 ERA in eight career starts at Tropicana Field.
“He just stayed aggressive the whole game. I don’t think either team walked a hitter the whole game,” Showalter said. “Making them earn their way because they can force the issue on the bases and just trying to keep them out of part of the game they’re good at.”
Chaz Roe got the final four outs.
The Orioles scored more than three runs for just the third time in 14 games.
“It makes pitching a lot easier,” Showalter said. “We’ve got to create some margin of errors for our pitchers.”
Davis said he didn’t feel that the team was tight.
“I think it wasn’t necessarily pressure. I think it just allows you to focus and enjoy the game a little bit. You don’t feel like you’re grinding every at bat, every pitch. You just go out there and play the game and really have fun and enjoy it,” Davis said.
NOTES: It was the third grand slam for the Orioles this season. Schoop and Steve Pearce have the others. … Davis has nine home runs and 29 RBIs in 30 games at Tropicana Field. … Travis Snider is 2-for-27 without an RBI this month. … Wei-Yin Chen (4-6, 2.86) faces Matt Moore (1-1, 7.23) on Sunday at 1:10 p.m.