He put off the exercise Friday night to address the flock of reporters in front of his locker—a rare sight in the Baltimore Orioles clubhouse this season.
Markakis’ third career slam, off rookie Jeremy Hellickson(notes) (7-4), put Baltimore up 5-0 in the second inning. Markakis had gone 88 at-bats without an extra-base hit since hitting a home run against Tampa Bay on May 15, and was mired in a 6-for-43 skid that dropped his batting average to .237.
Asked if he was pleased, Markakis said, “I guess you could say it was a relief for me, but it was a relief for the whole team. We got a big hit in a big situation.”
Poring over game film for hours and taking extra batting practice paid off, but there was no guarantee his resurgence would last into the weekend.
“There’s still a lot more hard work to come,” he said. “I’m feeling better, but I still don’t feel like I’m where I need to be. I’m just going to keep plugging away.”
J.J. Hardy(notes) hit his second leadoff homer for the Orioles, who have won four straight to get within a victory of .500 (31-32). Hardy reached base all five trips to the plate and scored three runs.
Arrieta (8-3) faced the minimum 15 batters through five innings, walking two, before Sam Fuld(notes) led off the sixth with a double. The right-hander said he was thinking about the no-hitter since early in the game.
“You know you haven’t given up a hit,” he said. “I’ve had a few outings like that, where you don’t give up a hit until the fifth or sixth and you sit there and think what if? What if tonight is the night? But you don’t really let that get to you.”
Hellickson gave up five runs, a career high-tying seven hits and three walks in 5 2-3 innings. The right-hander was 6-1 with a 1.74 ERA in his previous seven starts and 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA lifetime against the Orioles, but neither trend continued in the worst outing of his big league career.
In his previous 15 starts, Hellickson allowed more than three earned runs only once—four runs on April 17 against Minnesota. Not only did he yield more runs than ever before, but he also surrendered two homers in a game for the first time.
The one to Markakis, of course, hurt the most.
“I just made a really bad pitch, and he made me pay for it,” Hellickson said. “It was the only pitch I was upset with—and it’s the biggest pitch of the game.”
Hellickson fell behind after throwing two pitches, the second one a hanging curveball that Hardy drove into the left-field seats. In his first career start in the leadoff spot Tuesday, Hardy began the game with a home run against Oakland’s Guillermo Moscoso(notes).
Baltimore pulled away in the second. After a walk to Luke Scott(notes), a double by Mark Reynolds(notes) and two-out walk to Hardy loaded the bases, Markakis hit a breaking pitch over the 25-foot scoreboard in right field.
Hellickson had given up only one home run in his previous six starts.
“He wasn’t sharp, but he got through it,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
There were few offensive highlights for the Rays, whose three-game winning streak ended.
Johnny Damon(notes) led off the first inning with a walk, extending to 35 his career-high streak of games reaching base—the longest active run in the majors and two games short of Ben Grieve’s club record (in 2001). But he was thrown out trying to steal second base.
The Rays threatened in the sixth. After Fuld’s double, Justin Ruggiano(notes) got an infield hit and Reid Brignac(notes) popped out. Damon followed with a grounder up the middle that Arrieta tipped with his glove. Second baseman Robert Andino(notes) got the rebound with a backhanded grab and flipped the ball to shortstop Hardy, whose relay to first base completed the 1-4-6-3 double play.
NOTES: The start of the game was delayed by rain for 1 hour, 8 minutes. … Rays RF Matt Joyce(notes) was a late scratch, one day after getting a cortisone shot in his left shoulder. … Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria(notes) started for the first time since June 4. He was out with tightness in his left side and the flu. … The Orioles recalled 1B Brandon Snyder(notes) from Triple-A Norfolk to fill in for Derrek Lee(notes), who was placed on the bereavement list Thursday and is expected to miss the entire three-game series.