Baltimore, MD – J.J. Hardy hit a pair of two-run home runs and drove in five as the Baltimore Orioles took down the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-2, in the opener of a three-game set.
Matt Wieters added three hits and two RBI, while Chris Davis slugged a solo homer for the Orioles, who were coming off a split in a four-game series against the Yankees.
"It is always nice to get that first one in the series, especially with these guys," Hardy said. "It was a big night for us."
Jason Hammel departed in the fourth inning due to a right knee injury. Steve Johnson (3-0) earned the win with four outs of scoreless relief.
Ryan Roberts and Elliot Johnson both went deep for the Rays, who had won two of three against Texas over the weekend.
"(The game) is in the trash can, we did not play well at all," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We didn't pitch well, we didn't play well, we didn't swing the bat well. We just had a bad day."
Matt Moore (10-10) was pulled after just four frames, charged with four hits and three runs -- two earned -- with three walks.
Baltimore pulled into a tie atop the AL East standings after the Yankees lost in Boston. Tampa Bay, in third place, is two games out of the top spot.
"Right now we want to try to put as many runs on the board as we can. Any momentum you can build going into the end of the season, and hopefully a good postseason, is a plus," Davis said. "A lot of guys are starting to swing the bats right now. (Hardy) is obviously getting hot, Mark (Reynolds) has been out of his mind lately and (Wieters) had three or four hits tonight."
The O's moved ahead for good in the home third, as Robert Andino doubled and Hardy launched his first homer of the game into the seats in left for a 3-1 game.
It was 5-1 in the home fifth as Hardy stroked a leadoff double, Adam Jones followed with a single and both came in when Wieters doubled.
Nate McLouth reached on a two-out single in the bottom of the sixth, stole second and came in on a Hardy single for a five-run spread.
Davis cranked his solo shot with two outs in the seventh, and though Johnson greeted Darren O'Day with a blast to right in the eighth, Hardy struck back with another two-run homer in the bottom portion.
Baltimore scored first, as Jones walked with two down in the opening frame and scored on a Wieters single compounded by a Matt Joyce error.
Roberts evened the game in the third with a home run to left.
Hardy's effort was his second multi-homer game of 2012 and his ninth career performance of multiple longballs ... Baltimore has won seven of the 13 meetings with Tampa Bay this season ... Prior to the game, the Orioles selected the contracts of outfielders Endy Chavez and L.J. Hoes from Triple-A Norfolk, and designated both pitcher Kevin Gregg and infielder Ryan Adams for assignment ... Roberts departed late with a strained left forearm ... Hammel allowed only Roberts' homer and one walk in 3 2/3 frames.