Yoenis Cespedes, Brian Matusz

Brian Matusz watches Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes round the bases after he hit a two-run homer off the O's reliever. (Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images / April 28, 2013)

“I applaud both of them. They are both out if [the throws are made],” Showalter said. “I tell the guys all the time, you feel something, go for it. I would have done the same thing. I am proud they went for it.”

Hardy pointed the blame at himself for not getting to the base immediately.

“That was the play all along,” Hardy said. “Manny knows when he picks up the ball that he is throwing it to third base and I think I was just a little bit late there and that’s why I got handcuffed.”

And the 20-year-old Machado wasn’t exactly glossing over his rushed throw.

“Do or die. That was the right play. It didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to,” Machado said. “It’s obviously frustrating.”

The Orioles looked like they were going to cruise to the sweep when they scored four runs in the fourth, sending eight batters to the plate against Bartolo Colon. Davis had a two-run double, Adam Jones an RBI single and Matt Wieters a sacrifice fly.

McLouth triggered the rally with a leadoff single — one of his four hits and four runs scored. He has now reached base in 22 of his last 36 plate appearances. Machado also turned in his first four-hit game of his career while scoring twice and driving in two runs.

In the four-game series, the typical top five in the Orioles’ lineup — McLouth, Machado, Nick Markakis, Jones and Davis — combined to go 33-for-82 (.402 average) with five homers, 21 runs scored and 22 RBIs.

“Offensively, as a team overall, we are doing great,” Machado said. “We are executing when we need it.”

The starting pitching also was dominant again — at least initially.

Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez had barely broke a sweat in his first five innings, allowing just two hits while throwing 65 pitches. But he unraveled in the sixth, throwing 40 pitches and giving up four runs on five hits and two walks (one intentional).

“That’s about as good as you see a guy pitch for [five innings],” Showalter said. “It just kind of left him there and he lost a little feel. But we had some good opportunities. He gave us a good chance to win today and you know they were clicking on all cylinders with Cespedes back and hungry. You knew it was going to be tough to beat them today regardless of what kind of lead you might have.”

The 40 pitches in the sixth were the most thrown by an Oriole in one inning this season, and it ruined the Orioles’ shot of having four consecutive quality starts. Of the 17 runs Gonzalez has allowed this year, eight have come in the sixth.

“I think it just happens,” he said. “I got a little bit tired, but you can’t go with that. I do what I had to do and kept the team in the ballgame.”

Ultimately, though, the Orioles still took three of four from the A’s — and that wasn’t lost on them.

“Three out of four is outstanding especially to start a long road trip against anybody, no matter where you are,” Davis said. “So I definitely think we can be happy about that.”

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