BALTIMORE -- Throughout easily the worst stretch of his career, first baseman Mark Reynolds had held out hope.
Hope that he could work his way out of prolonged struggles at the plate with early batting practice and extra work with hitting coach Jim Presley. Hope that a power stroke that had been missing most of 2012 would come back and carry the Orioles -- like it did for parts of last season -- when the 29-year-old led the team in home runs and RBIs.
But perhaps most of all, Reynolds held out hope that even with the arrival of top prospect Manny Machado crowding the infield picture he would still get the chance to do it. Starting for the second time in the team's last four games, Reynolds showed some long-awaited signs of heating up, blasting a pair of homers in a four-RBI evening that helped propel the Orioles to a 7-1 series-opening win over the Red Sox on Tuesday night.
The two dingers marked the first multihomer game of the season for Reynolds, who also tied his season-high with four runs batted in, and was a promising sight for manager Buck Showalter who has stuck by the first baseman in hopes of him working his way out of things.
"It means a lot to him to contribute to his club and his teammates," Showalter said of Reynolds, who is 8-for-22 with three homers, three doubles, seven RBIs and six runs scored on the team's current homestand.
Meaningful, yes. A relief? Not quite.
"Since April to almost now, it's been a struggle," said Reynolds, who hit 37 homers last year and entered Tuesday's game with nine. "I'm not out of this yet. One good night doesn't mean anything. I've got to keep pushing. Can't relax."
The same goes for a plucky Orioles club, which is now 10 games over .500 for the first time since June 22 and is still in the thick of the American League Wild Card race and six games behind the AL East-leading Yankees.
Getting Reynolds back to form could go a long way in keeping the Orioles' playoff hopes alive.
"I've been on the other end of a Mark Reynolds home run, so I know what that's like," said reliever Darren O'Day, who worked out of a bases-loaded one-out jam with a pair of seventh-inning strikeouts. "He's a very talented player and he hasn't hit as well as we wanted to this year, and it's only a matter of time. You saw the swing he put on [Josh] Beckett's fastball tonight -- that's impressive. There's only a handful of guys in the league that can do that. We get him hot, and that's only going to make our lineup even better."
Added designated hitter Chris Davis: "We have all the confidence in the world in him. He's really played well defensively. We've been saying it all along, he's liable to catch fire and hit 20 home runs. Hopefully he can keep it going."
Reynolds first went deep to open the fifth inning, sending Beckett's pitch over the right-field scoreboard, and he connected for a three-run bomb off reliever Mark Melancon as part of a five-run sixth. Reynolds was the first batter to face Melancon, as the Orioles chased Beckett two outs into the inning after Davis' RBI single increased Baltimore's lead to four.
"I know what I'm capable of," said Reynolds, who has hit more than 30 homers in each of the past three seasons. "I've done it before, and hopefully tonight will kind of be a springboard for me and moving forward give me some confidence. When Buck writes me in there, I'm going to do everything I can do."
Starter Wei-Yin Chen did everything in his power to keep Boston off the scoreboard, scattering nine hits and a walk as he allowed just one run over six innings. Chen, who has been the team's most consistent starter this season, never had a clean inning, but he got some help from his defense and picked up four strikeouts en route to his 11th win.
So, how was he able to work his way out of so many jams?
"The only thing I can say is, [Matt] Wieters is a great catcher," Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin.
The 26-year-old Chen exited after allowing a single to start the seventh and O'Day loaded the bases on a double and walk, but he worked out of it by fanning Cody Ross and Ryan Lavarnway. O'Day's escape act helped the Orioles hold the Sox to 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
"Chen is good," said Ross, who scored the Red Sox's lone run. "He locates his ball as good as anybody. He was getting some big outs when he needed to and big strikeouts."
J.C. Romero made his Orioles debut with a scoreless eighth, while second baseman Omar Quintanilla got the scoring started with a solo homer to begin the third.
"It was good tonight to put some distance between us and them," Davis said of an Oriole club that is 7-3 against Boston this season. "It was big for us to get the win and kind of set the tone for the series."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.