Despite his obvious power and previous success, Orioles infielder Chris Davis has been struggling so much this season that it has become business as usual when pitchers challenge him.

So, in the Orioles' 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, it was somewhat surprising that Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon chose to have rookie right-hander Kirby Yates (0-2) intentionally walk Davis with two outs and a runner on second base in a tied game.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy made the move backfire, dumping a bloop single into right field to score Nelson Cruz from second base for the eventual game-winner in front of an announced 16,915 at Camden Yards.

“He was going to face Davis if there was a runner on first base right there,” Maddon said about Yates, who is much better versus right-handers this year (.228 average versus right-handed hitters; .269 against lefties). If the base is open, Hardy on Yates is a really good matchup as far as we’re concerned.”

Considered one of baseball’s best tacticians, Maddon went with the conventional call to walk the left-handed Davis and face the right-handed Hardy instead of playing the obvious trend.

Davis was hitless in three at-bats and had just two hits in the four-game series, dropping his season’s average to .188. He had been intentionally walked eight times this year -- but not once since June 25. Hardy was 1-for-3 in the game and was hitting .281 heading into that at-bat.

“I see the reasoning behind it: Right-handed pitcher on the mound, right-handed hitter behind me. Had some good swings on a couple of balls earlier in the game,” Davis said. “It doesn’t matter what your batting average is if they feel like you can hurt them at any point in the game, and they have a chance to walk you, they can do it.”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he may have walked Davis as well, even with Hardy waiting.