BALTIMORE (AP) — Just when it seemed as if the White Sox were doomed to play out the string in a losing season, they put together their longest winning streak of the year and now find themselves four games out of first place.
Brent Morel homered and drove in two runs, Carlos Quentin also connected, and the White Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.
Before the current run, the White Sox were 52-58. They still have a losing record, but are well within striking distance of first-place Detroit in the AL Central.
“We’ve kind of just been waiting for this all year, really,” Morel said. “We have a lot of potential. It’s kind of been a disappointing year, but knowing that we have a little time left to make a push, hopefully we can keep playing well.”
Morel, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, played a huge part in Chicago’s season-high seventh consecutive road win. In addition to driving in half his team’s runs, the third baseman also made a diving stop of a grounder in the seventh inning with the potential tying run on third.
Gavin Floyd (10-10) gave up three runs in 6 2-3 innings for the White Sox. The Maryland native is 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA lifetime in Baltimore. Coming off a horrid performance against the Yankees in which he surrendered 10 runs in 2 1-3 innings, Floyd improved to 4-1 in his last five starts.
After Floyd left, the bullpen kept Baltimore hitless the rest of the way. Sergio Santos struck out Robert Andino for the final out to earn his 24th save and extend his road scoreless streak to 29 games.
“We knew from the beginning we have a good bullpen, and I feel we have a good starting staff and good lineup also,” Floyd said. “Hopefully we can just come together and go on a little run here.”
After Baltimore scored three runs in the fifth, Floyd ended the inning by retiring Vladimir Guerrero with a runner on second. In the seventh, after Felix Pie hit a leadoff double and advanced on a sacrifice, Morel made a diving stab of J.J. Hardy’s grounder, and former Oriole Will Ohman struck out Nick Markakis.
Making his first start with Baltimore after being obtained on waivers from Toronto, Jo-Jo Reyes (5-9) allowed four runs and five hits in four innings. Both walks he issued came around to score, and he also yielded two home runs.
Chris Jakubauskas followed with four innings of two-hit relief.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter received his second ejection of the season after umpire Phil Cuzzi called Markakis out on the front end of a double steal in the fifth inning. Markakis and third base coach Willie Randolph initially protested the call, and Showalter carried the argument to another level before being tossed by Cuzzi. Replays indicated the runner was safe.
“That was huge,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I don’t know if he was safe or out but that was huge, when things start going your way, a lot of things happen. We had a break there and we took advantage.”
By losing the first two games of the four-game series, Baltimore will again fail to win its first series since June 24-26. The call at third place hurt, but the Orioles also made several pivotal errors, including a missed tag on a stolen base and Markakis freezing at second on a fourth-inning single by Guerrero.
“We had plenty of opportunities to capitalize, starting with myself,” Markakis said. “You make small mistakes in the game and they come back and bite you in the butt.”
Chicago jumped on top with a two-run second inning. After Quentin led off with his 24th home run, Brent Lillibridge walked with two outs and scored on a single by Morel.
Reyes walked leadoff hitter Alexei Ramirez in the third, then got two outs before A.J. Pierzynski doubled in a run. The hit came after Andino missed a tag on Ramirez during a steal of second base.
In the fourth, the White Sox again scored with two outs, this time when Morel hit a 3-1 pitch into the left-field seats. He has two home runs in 263 at-bats this season.
Held hitless through the first three innings, the Orioles got a leadoff double from Markakis in the fourth. But with runners at the corners, Floyd struck out Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds to end the inning.
Baltimore finally broke through in the fifth. Three straight singles loaded the bases, and Hardy drove in a run with fielder’s choice. Markakis followed with an RBI single, and another run scored when shortstop Ramirez fumbled Adam Jones’ grounder. Then came the ill-fated double steal attempt.
NOTES: Davis returned after missing four straight games with a sore shoulder. … Chicago RHP Philip Humber (8-8) makes his 20th start of the season Wednesday night. He’s 0-4 with a 7.97 ERA in his last four outings. Baltimore will counter with Tommy Hunter, obtained in a trade with Texas on July 30. In his starting debut with the Orioles, Hunter yielded four runs in four innings in a loss to Toronto. … Pierzynski has four hits in the series after coming to town in an 0-for-12 slump.
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