The Baltimore Orioles have put together one of the majors' best records in the last month, but they'll face another surging team in the Chicago White Sox.
The two playoff hopefuls open a four-game series Monday night at Camden Yards.
Baltimore has won 17 of 25 for the majors' second-best record since July 29 and is tied for the second AL wild-card spot. The Orioles (69-57) won their first two games against last-place Toronto this weekend before Sunday's finale was postponed because of weather.
Chicago (71-55) figures to pose a far more difficult challenge as it enters this series after a 6-0 homestand to maintain a 2 1/2-game lead over Detroit in the Central. The White Sox completed a three-game sweep of Seattle with a 4-3 win Sunday after the game was called due to rain in the seventh.
"Mother Nature is looking at us and giving us the blessing," reliever Hector Santiago told the White Sox's official website. "Snake a win right there ... get out of here and go on the road trip."
Tyler Flowers hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh, Chicago's 32nd in the last 16 games. The White Sox lead the majors with 43 homers this month.
After losing 11 of 14 at home, the Orioles have won 10 of 13 there. They've averaged 5.5 runs and hit 22 homers during that stretch.
Right fielder Nick Markakis had two hits and two runs in Saturday's 8-2 victory over the Blue Jays, and is hitting .419 (13 for 31) in his last eight games.
Center fielder Adam Jones had two RBIs in that contest but hasn't homered in his last 104 at-bats, four shy of matching the longest drought of his career set in 2008. Jones, though, is 4 for 12 with three homers lifetime against scheduled White Sox starter Francisco Liriano .
Looking to bolster an inconsistent rotation, Baltimore acquired starter Joe Saunders from Arizona on Sunday in exchange for reliever Matt Lindstrom and a player to be named later. Saunders is 6-10 with a 4.22 ERA this year."I like our ballclub's chances," said Dan Duquette, the Orioles vice president of baseball operations. "There's an old saying: If you're going in the right direction, keep walking. So the addition of Joe Saunders gives us a chance to keep walking in the right direction."
Baltimore sends it most consistent starter to the mound in the series opener in Wei-Yin Chen (12-7, 3.87 ERA). The left-hander won his second straight start despite allowing five runs and seven hits over five innings as the Orioles rallied for a 7-5 win at Detroit on Aug. 19.
Chen limited the White Sox to two runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 3-2 victory on April 17.
Also looking to win a third consecutive start will be Liriano (5-10, 5.12), who has pitched very well in four of his five starts since joining the White Sox. He gave up two runs and six hits over six innings of a 7-3 win over the Yankees on Tuesday.
Liriano is 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts against Baltimore this season.
|Alejandro De Aza||2||.000||0||0||0||1||0||.333||.333||.000|
|Chicago White Sox|
|August 26, 2012||Gavin Floyd||Day-to-Day||Right elbow discomfort|
|August 25, 2012||Dayan Viciedo||Day-to-Day||Right shoulder soreness|
|August 19, 2012||Kevin Youkilis||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|August 18, 2012||Alejandro De Aza||15-Day DL||Bruised left ribcage|
|August 16, 2012||Orlando Hudson||15-Day DL||Left foot contusion|
|August 14, 2012||Leyson Septimo||15-Day DL||Left biceps inflammation|
|August 22, 2012||Matt Wieters||Day-to-Day||Left game - right shoulder contusion|
|August 13, 2012||Troy Patton||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|August 12, 2012||Wilson Betemit||15-Day DL||Sore right wrist|
|August 02, 2012||Ryan Flaherty||15-Day DL||Bacterial infection|
|August 02, 2012||Ryan Flaherty||15-Day DL||Bacterial infection|
|July 28, 2012||Jim Thome||15-Day DL||Herniated disc|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Nate McLouth and Lew Ford added their names to the Baltimore Orioles ' rapidly expanding list of unlikely heroes.
McLouth put Baltimore ahead with a two-run homer in the eighth inning, Ford also connected, and the Orioles beat the White Sox 4-3 on Monday night, ending Chicago's six-game winning streak.
It was the franchise-record 13th consecutive one-run win for the Orioles, who trailed 2-1 in the sixth and 3-2 in the eighth. Baltimore is 24-6 in one-run games and 45-18 in games decided by one or two runs.
"This is as good of a club as I've ever had about staying in the moment," said manager Buck Showalter, now 173-173 since being hired on Aug. 3, 2010. "That's a challenge when you are around so many things that aren't really realistic, to stay together and challenge the things that really are important."
It's hard to fathom what the Orioles (70-57) have accomplished this year following 14 straight losing seasons. It's also difficult to imagine players like McLouth and Ford making major contributions in an important win. They were teammates with Triple-A Norfolk a month ago, and now they're providing Baltimore with a playoff push.
"That's why they got us up here," said Ford, whose second-inning homer was his first in the majors since July 29, 2007, with Minnesota against Cleveland. After that season, Ford didn't return to the big leagues until being summoned by the Orioles in late July.
After the White Sox went up 3-2 in the eighth against Pedro Strop (5-2) on a run-scoring infield single by Adam Dunn , Baltimore answered in the bottom half against Brett Myers (2-2).
Mark Reynolds drew a one-out walk and McLouth drove a 1-0 pitch far over the wall in right-center. It was his third RBI of the game and second home run since the Orioles purchased his contract from Norfolk on Aug. 4.
"I sure didn't want it to go straight over the plate, which is where it went," Myers said of the ill-fated fastball. "I wish I could have that one pitch back, but you know that isn't going to happen."
Asked if he ever doubted something like this could happen after being released by Pittsburgh at the end of May, McLouth replied, "Maybe. I think that's probably fair to say. But I love playing baseball. The Orioles were gracious to give me an opportunity and I'm happy to be here. I'm excited. It's been fun so far."
Jim Johnson pitched the ninth for his 40th save in 43 opportunities.
Facing the Orioles for the first time with Chicago after tormenting them as a member of the Boston Red Sox, Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning and singled in the eighth to set up Dunn's RBI hit. Youkilis has a lifetime .322 batting average against Baltimore, with 23 homers and 87 RBIs.
"You never want to lose a game like that," Youkilis said. "We had the lead and Nate hit that home run."
The duel between the first-place White Sox and the surprising Orioles - who moved within 3 1/2 games of first-place New York in the AL East and stayed in the midst of the wild-card race - attracted a meager crowd of 10,955 on a clear night at Camden Yards.
Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen gave up two runs, one earned, and four hits in six innings. He struck out eight, including A.J. Pierzynski three times.
Down 1-0, Chicago took the lead in the sixth. After Chen dropped a throw to first base for an error, Youkilis homered on the next pitch.
Baltimore pulled even in the bottom half. A walk to Matt Wieters and a single by Ford put runners at the corners with no outs and prompted White Sox manager Robin Ventura to replace starter Francisco Liriano with Jesse Crain , who walked Reynolds and McLouth to force in a run. Crain then got Manny Machado to hit into a force at the plate, struck out Robert Andino and retired Nick Markakis on a slow roller to shortstop.
It was another missed opportunity for the Orioles, who had several in the early going.
In the first inning, Markakis was tagged out by Liriano while trying to score from third on a pitch that bounced away from Pierzynski and rolled to the right of the plate.
After Ford hit an opposite-field drive to right leading off the second, the Orioles loaded the bases with one out before Markakis lined into a double play.
NOTES: White Sox RHP Gavin Floyd had a MRI on his right elbow Monday in Chicago. Ventura said no damage was found, but Floyd was scratched from Friday's start against Detroit in favor of Jake Peavy , who was slated to pitch Wednesday. Dylan Axelrod will pitch Wednesday. ... The Orioles optioned Jake Arrieta to Norfolk to make room for LHP Joe Saunders , obtained Sunday in a trade with Arizona. Saunders will make his first start either Wednesday or Thursday, Showalter said. ... RHP Jason Hammel (knee) threw a simulated three-inning game at Camden Yards. He will next make a rehabilitation start on Sept. 1 and could rejoin the team on Sept. 6, Showalter said. ... Baltimore's Adam Jones went 0 for 4 and is homerless in 108 at-bats, tying the longest drought of his career.