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Hardy joins rare company with 20th homer

SAN FRANCISCO -- With his second-inning blast in Friday's win, J.J. Hardy became the third shortstop in Orioles history to record three consecutive seasons with 20 or more homers, joining Miguel Tejada and Cal Ripken Jr.

"He's just a consistent human being, period," manager Buck Showalter said of Hardy's steadiness at the plate and on the field. "I feel confident knowing what you are going to get out of him. Always approachable. I think what people miss sometimes because he doesn't wear it on his sleeve is the competitive fire he has. He enjoys the competition. He likes when things are done right. He'll be the first guy when we're out of position with a relay or something could have been done a little better. He's like having a coach on the field. He gets it."

Hardy, who started the All-Star Game for the first time in his career this year, entered Saturday batting .252 with 63 RBIs and -- after struggling last season in the No. 2 spot -- has primarily hit seventh, which has helped him improve on a disappointing 2012.

"It has [helped]," Hardy said. "Just with RBI chances, and you know what else has helped? Adam Jones, [Nick] Markakis, [Chris] Davis, [Manny] Machado. All those guys are getting on base, so it seems like every at-bat, I've got somebody on base. It's a pretty solid lineup."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli.
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