Matusz shuts down White Sox in Orioles' 4-2 win

Starter allows just one run in seven innings as O's improve to 4-2 vs. Chicago this year

August 25, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

CHICAGO — As his loss total mounted and his ERA soared, Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz maintained that he still had time to salvage a rookie season that had once held such promise.

This was precisely what he had in mind. Matusz authored his second consecutive dominant start and the fourth in his past five outings, allowing just one run in seven innings as the Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox, 4-2, on Wednesday night before an announced 23,733 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Matusz held Chicago to just three hits and a walk while striking out five. He has allowed just one run -- on Gordon Beckham's solo homer in the sixth -- in his past 16 innings. He has also surrendered one run or fewer in four of his past five starts. Two of those outings have come against the White Sox, who have managed just two earned runs and six hits off Matusz in two starts this year spanning 13 innings.

Michael Gonzalez pitched a scoreless eighth and Koji Uehara pitched the ninth for his second save, allowing an RBI triple to Carlos Quentin before striking out the potential tying run in A.J. Pierzynski to end it. The Orioles (45-82) improved to 4-2 against the White Sox this season and 13-9 overall under manager Buck Showalter. They need to go 2-3 over their final five games this month to clinch their first winning August since 1997.

Catcher Matt Wieters went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly, second baseman Brian Roberts hit a solo homer and center fielder Felix Pie had two hits and reached base three times for the Orioles, who will go for the series victory tonight.

The Orioles had a chance to take an early lead against White Sox starter Mark Buehrle after they put runners on first and second with no outs in the second inning. Luke Scott reached on an error by second baseman Beckham, and Pie singled, his fourth hit in his first five at-bats of the series.

Struggling Wieters then swung at Buehrle's first pitch and bounced into a double play. Cesar Izturis followed by grounding out, allowing the White Sox starter to escape what was shaping up to be a difficult inning on just four pitches.

Through four innings, Buehrle had thrown only 46 pitches in front of what has been an injury-depleted bullpen. But the Orioles finally got to him in the fifth to break a scoreless tie.

Pie drew a leadoff walk, and Wieters scored him all the way from first with a double down the left-field line that White Sox outfielder Juan Pierre struggled to dig out. Izturis' groundout to the right side moved Wieters to third and gave rookie Josh Bell a better RBI opportunity.

Bell struck out, but after the White Sox opted to intentionally walk Roberts, Corey Patterson hit an RBI single to left, scoring Wieters and giving the Orioles a 2-0 lead.

The Orioles still had two men on in the inning, but Buehrle got Nick Markakis to pop out in the infield.

The Orioles got an additional run in the top of the sixth as Ty Wigginton drew a leadoff walk and Pie hit a one-out single, improving to 5-for-6 with a walk in the series. With men on the corners and one out, Wieters hit a fly ball to deep center, the sacrifice fly easily scoring Wigginton from third.

The 3-0 lead figured to be in good hands with the way Matusz was pitching. He was in a little trouble in the second inning as Chicago had runners on the corners with one out. However, Andruw Jones hit into an inning-ending double play that was started by a nice turn from Bell at third base.

That started a stretch in which the rookie left-hander retired 10 of the 11 batters he faced, including four on strikeouts.

Coupled with his eight shutout innings in his previous start against the Texas Rangers, Matusz took a streak of 14 consecutive scoreless innings into the sixth inning.

However, that ended on one swing from Beckham, who got the decisive hit in Tuesday's series opener with a go-ahead three-run homer off Jeremy Guthrie in the seventh inning. This time, Beckham connected for a solo shot, bashing Matusz's 2-2 changeup over the center-field wall.

Beckham's ninth home run this season traveled an estimated 403 feet and cut the Orioles' lead to 3-1.

However, Brian Roberts restored the Orioles' three-run advantage with a solo homer in the seventh. Roberts' third homer of the year sailed over the White Sox's bullpen in left field.

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