BALTIMORE -- Manny Machado's right knee injury could have a devastating long-term effect on the Orioles, and with shortstop J.J. Hardy also injured, the O's were short on infielders when Machado exited Monday's game against the Yankees in the third inning. In a pinch, Chris Davis had to fill in at third base.
When Davis, who wasn't in the starting lineup against the left-handed Chris Capuano, came to bat for the first time in the fifth inning, he temporarily eased the worry caused by Machado's sprained right knee. Davis crushed Capuano's full-count slider to right field for a go-ahead two-run homer. The Orioles scored the final 10 runs of the game -- including homers by Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Schoop -- and cruised to an 11-3 win against New York at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
"It kind of snowballed there a little bit," manager Buck Showalter said. "Chris obviously had the big blow of the night."
The win stretched the O's lead over third-place New York in the American League East to seven games. The Yankees are three games out of the second Wild Card spot, now trailing the Tigers.
Until the seventh inning, New York hung around. Nick Markakis led the frame off with a double and Adam Jones drove him home with a double of his own to give Baltimore a 5-3 lead.
"Adam had a big night," Showalter said. "I thought the fifth run he drove in was huge for momentum."
The fireworks started. Cruz drove Jones home with his Major League-high-tying 31st home run of the year. An inning later, the O's batted around and got a three-run home run from Schoop to turn a convincing lead into a blowout.
Schoop is now 10-for-26 with three home runs and 10 RBIs against the Yankees this season.
"Those are pretty good numbers," Schoop said. "They're a division opponent, so maybe I'm just more excited."
The three home runs and the offensive eruption they accompanied rescued Bud Norris and Baltimore from a disastrous start. Norris (10-7) needed 62 pitches to make it through the first two innings and finished his day after allowing three earned runs in five innings. New York scored its final two runs, though, without even putting the ball in play.
The Yankees tried a double steal in the second inning with runners on the corners, and the Orioles caught Chase Headley in a rundown between first and second. Eventually, Carlos Beltran broke for home. A throw from Machado followed and clipped off the outfielder's helmet. The ball bounced to the backstop as Beltran scored. The crowd of 34,018 rose to its feet for different reasons.
Almost half basked in the home team's misfortune. The rest groaned. Headley came around to score after the ball got loose again and Norris was unable to catch Machado's throw to the plate.
"It was a little unexpected to see them try it with one out," Showalter said. "They may have had a missed hit-and-run. I'm not sure."
Without even swinging the bat, New York scored as many runs as it had in the previous 21 innings.
An inning later, the O's fortunes somehow worsened. Machado broke his bat on a grounder to Derek Jeter and crumpled to the ground. His back leg gave out and the third baseman writhed in pain, clutching his injured right knee as Showalter and head athletic trainer Richie Bancells helped the All-Star off the field.
"I think it was a scare for all of us," Norris said. "We didn't like seeing it in Tampa last year, and obviously, that was pretty frightening here today. We're going to get some results from that, but we're obviously praying for him."
Davis replaced Machado in the top half of the following frame and delivered the heroics against Capuano an inning later to trigger the rout.
The game could have been a disaster for Baltimore. Instead, it was a bittersweet victory that will leave the still surging O's anxiously awaiting some test results in the coming hours. Initial X-rays on Machado's knee came back negative, and he's scheduled to undergo an MRI on Tuesday morning.
"There's a chance we may have dodged a bullet," Showalter said. "We'll see."
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.