Chris Davis did what the best players in baseball can do -- practically beat a team by himself every once in a while.
Davis had already hit his league-leading 32nd homer earlier in the game when he came to the plate to face Matt Thornton in the eighth. He had two on and one out, and when Thornton threw a first-pitch hanging slider, Davis roped it down the right-field line to score both runs. That gave the Orioles a 4-2 lead, and although Jim Johnson gave up a pair of singles to bring the winning run to the plate in the ninth, he got out of it with a strikeout and a tap-out, both of which featured questionable strikes.
The outcome made Hector Santiago a non-factor in the decision, which is unfortunate since he pitched a terrific game.
It could have ended far earlier. Don Cooper had to use the bullpen phone in the first inning after Santiago's night started with a walk, single, RBI single, and a whole lot of hitter's counts. He limited the damage to one run after a pair of strikeouts and a flyout, but the 26-pitch first inning put him on a troubling pace.
He settled in eventually, though. His changeup command wasn't great, and his breaking ball was nonexistent, but he rode the strength of a fastball that his 97 at times to nine strikeouts over seven innings. Robin Ventura showed faith in him by letting him finish the seventh after Nolan Reimold hit a two-out double on Santiago's 118th pitch of the night. Santiago headed to the dugout on his own terms by striking out Brian Roberts with a 2-2 changeup.
Santiago didn't face too much trouble in between. The only other run he allowed came on Davis' opposite field homer, which also came on the first pitch and looked like a deep flyout off the bat.
As it turns out, Ventura had a reason to avoid the bullpen. Matt Lindstrom's command was somewhat erratic, and he gave up a pair of singles around a strikeout. Thornton came in, and both runners came around to score.
But it's hard to win with two runs, and after some early vigor, the Sox had a hard time putting anything together.
Alex Rios and Adam Dunn combined to tie the game in the first -- the former singled with two outs, stole second and scored on the latter's double to the right-center gap.
They had a chance to put Scott Feldman (making his Baltimore debut) behind in the second. Jeff Keppinger led off with a double and moved to third on Gordon Beckham's groundout. But Tyler Flowers, who didn't take many good swings off Feldman tonight, struck out, and Alejandro De Aza grounded out to end the threat.
After that, the bats went cold again, save Beckham's first homer of the season. Leading off the fifth, He turned on a 2-1 fastball and crushed it over the White Sox bullpen to tie the game at 2. Beckham hadn't homered since Sept. 18, 2012, so that was a positive sign, as was the single off ROOGY Darren O'Day. He's now hitting .333, and moral victories like these will likely outnumber actual victories with the way this season is going.