BALTIMORE -- Brian Roberts had to endure a tremendous amount of hardship waiting for the chance to contribute to a playoff run. . Now, finally, it all seems worth it. Roberts hit a grand slam, Adam Jones homered and had three RBIs, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Oakland Athletics 9-7 Friday night to gain ground in the wild-card race. Its been a grind for the 35-year-old Roberts over the past few years. Hes had to deal with one injury after another, from a serious concussion to a groin strain to hip surgery. He was powerless to do anything but watch last year as the Orioles made their first trip to the playoffs in 15 years. This season, after another bout with injuries, Roberts is finally playing the role he longed for since launching his major league career in 2001. "Its fun. This is what we all play for," he said. "You want to be in the race in August and September, and I havent had a whole lot of opportunities to do that in my career. Unfortunately missed the fun last year. So to be able to contribute and be a part of it and just be one of the 25 guys is awesome." Roberts and Jones connected in a six-run fourth inning that put Baltimore up 6-3. After Oakland rallied to take the lead, Jones drove in the go-ahead run during a three-run seventh. The victory moved the Orioles past Cleveland into third place in the wild-card hunt. Tampa Bay is on top and Baltimore now stands two games behind Oakland. The top two teams make the playoffs. Making his fifth start for Baltimore since coming in a trade with Houston, Bud Norris yielded seven runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings. In four appearances against Oakland this season, hes 0-3 with a 9.35 ERA. "This is about the team battling back," Norris said. "They picked me up. To win that one, the first game of the series, is huge." Coco Crisp homered, had a career-high tying four hits and scored three runs for the As, who have lost four of six and are 15-17 since the All-Star break. "Were going to go out there and play as hard as we can, and if we end up making it to the playoffs that would be fantastic," Crisp said. "If not, we knew we gave it our best shot and thats what everyone in here is doing right now." In the Baltimore seventh, Jesse Chavez walked Nate McLouth and was replaced by Ryan Cook (5-3). A single by Manny Machado put runners at the corners, and McLouth scored when second baseman Eric Sogard misplayed a grounder by Chris Davis. Jones followed with a run-scoring groundout and Nick Markakis capped the uprising with an RBI single. Francisco Rodriguez (2-0) got the win and Jim Johnson, the fourth Baltimore reliever, worked a perfect ninth for his 40th save. He had blown his previous three attempts. "You could see the look in his eye," Roberts said. "I thought tonight he came out really aggressive. He threw the ball incredible. We all looked at each other and were like, Whoa. This is almost a different guy." The victory assured the Orioles their first season series win over Oakland since 1998. Theyve won four of five with two to play. As starter Dan Straily allowed six runs, four hits and four walks in 3 1-3 innings. Although he walked off the mound with the As trailing 6-3, the right-hander avoided losing his sixth straight decision when Oakland took the lead with a four-run fifth. Crisp led off the fifth with a single and scored on a double by Jed Lowrie, who came home on a single by Josh Donaldson. Following a double play, two walks and a single loaded the bases and ended Norris night. Troy Patton then gave up a two-run single to Sogard. Oakland got a first-inning run when Crisp led off with a single and scored on a two-out single by Brandon Moss. Crisp and Moss hit solo shots to right field in the third, even though Norris struck out the side. At that point, the As were sailing. Then came the Baltimore fourth inning. Davis drew a walk and Jones followed with an opposite-field drive to right. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Roberts, who hit a high fly to right that plopped onto the flag court beyond the 25-foot scoreboard for his sixth career grand slam, the first since 2009. NOTES: Straily has allowed 11 homers in his last 11 starts . ... The As acquired C Kurt Suzuki in a trade with Washington. Suzuki fills the void left by the absence of John Jaso (concussion) and Derek Norris (broken toe). ... Baltimore sold minor league pitcher Freddy Garcia to Atlanta. ... Oakland RF Josh Reddick (wrist) took full batting practice Friday and could return Saturday. ... As OF Seth Smith was back in the lineup for the first time in almost a week because of an astigmatism. . Listen to the Raptors vs. Jazz live tonight on TSN Radio 1050 at 9pm et/6pm pt. The Raptors are 1-1 so far on the five-game junket after defeating Denver and losing to Portland. .A. Happ? Happs seven wins are second on the staff to Mark Buehrles 10. Win-loss record is an antiquated stat, sure, but win total is generally an indication of a pitchers ability to work deep into games, enough to be personally affected by the result.The NBAs life ban for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling won swift support in Europe but also produced calls for soccer to show similar resolve against racism. FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini, via his spokesman, both voiced approval on Wednesday. Blatter tweeted: "Sport says no to racism. I fully support (at)NBAs decision to ban (at)LAClippers owner for life after his racist words." Patrick Vieira, a 1998 World Cup winner with France, also tweeted: "Well done to (at)NBA, another organisation dealing with racism in exactly the right way. I say again - zero tolerance." NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants Sterling to sell as part of a series of sanctions brought against the leagues longest-tenured owner in response to racist comments in a recorded conversation. Silver banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million, and said he will press the other team owners to support his desire to make Sterling sell. For some in Europe, the NBAs resolve was in stark contrast to soccer leaders failure to eradicate racism that has dogged stadiums and marred matches for decades. Just last weekend, a Villarreal season-ticket holder racially taunted Barcelona defender Dani Alves by throwing a banana at him. Retired British NBA player John Amaechi noted that players, executives and owners in the American league appeared united in their rejection of Sterling. "If they can do that to respond to a hateful private utterance, why the hell cant football do that to respond to repeated instances of hate-mongering?" Amaechi said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "Its time that we started looking at some of the owners within other parts of sport," outside the NBA, he said. . "Theyre exactly the type of plantation mentality people who dont mind having black people working for them ... But God forbid that they want to come up to the big house." Amaechi said he doesnt expect the NBAs exemplary punishment of Sterling will jolt soccer into meaningful change. And Blatters tweet of support for the NBA was "not enough," he added. "If there was a poster-person for the words impotence and apathy, it would have his face on it," Amaechi said. "You know what theyre going to do? Theyre going to produce another pretty poster with platitudes plastered all over it. Theyre going to produce another campaign that has a black player stood next to a white player," he said. "Nothing substantive." FIFA and UEFA, the European authority, have toughened their sanctions for discrimination in the past year and prosecuted cases more quickly. A turning point in awareness of widespread problems with offensive abuse at matches came in January 2013 when Kevin-Prince Boateng, then playing for AC Milan, led teammates walking off the field to protest racist insults during an exhibition against a fourth-tier Italian side. FIFA and UEFA have ordered national and club teams to play matches in empty or partly closed stadiums as punishment for racial abuse incidents, but no World Cup or Champions League team has yet had points deducted or forfeited a match. Among the most severe judgments, FIFA has banned Croatia defender Josip Simunic for 10 matches -- including the 2014 World Cup -- for leading fans in chanting a Nazi-era nationalist slogan after a playoff victory against Iceland last November. Simunic has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. ' ' '