Wei-Yin Chen, three home runs power Orioles to 4-3 win over White Sox

Left-hander pitches 7 1/3 innings, club increases major league-leading total to 161 home runs

August 21, 2014|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

CHICAGO -- The way the red-hot Orioles are playing these days, no deficit seems insurmountable.

So when left-hander Wei-Yin Chen quickly fell behind the Chicago White Sox in the first inning Wednesday night, it seemed as if it was only a matter of time before the Orioles would come back.

The Orioles were clearly the superior team this week on Chicago’s South Side, completing their first series sweep of the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in 19 years with a 4-3 victory in front of an announced 15,137 that included a significant amount of Orioles fans.

Through a span of three batters, the Orioles’ quick-strike offense turned a two-run deficit into a one-run lead in the fourth inning. They hit three homers in the game against White Sox starter Hector Noesi — including Nelson Cruz’s career-high-tying 33rd home run of the season, a two-run go-ahead shot in the fourth.

Chen steadied himself to record his fourth start of seven or more innings in his last five outings, winning his career-high 13th game of the season. And the Orioles' lockdown bullpen preserved the one-run win through some tense moments late in the game. 

“We’re really good as a team,” said Cruz, whose majors-leading 33rd homer tied the career high he set in 2009 with the Texas Rangers. “We’re doing the little things that matter in the end. The pitching, the bullpen, it’s amazing to see everybody do their job and go about their business.”

The Orioles (73-52) completed their first sweep of the White Sox on the road since taking all four games here on July 6-9, 1995. The Orioles had already won their ninth series in their last 10 with Tuesday’s victory.

“It’s unbelievable the way we’re playing,” Cruz said. “It seems like every day somebody is coming up and stepping up. It’s more exciting. It’s nothing better than coming to the ballpark every day with the chance of winning every game.”

Cruz, Steve Pearce and Adam Jones each hit a home run for the Orioles, who lead the major leagues with 161. The Orioles outscored Chicago, 17-6, in the three games this week.

“You give yourself some opportunities,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “There were some things we weren’t perfect with tonight, but when you pitch well, it can cover some things when you catch the baseball. We played three good defensive games here.”

They now lead the American League East by nine games over the second-place Toronto Blue Jays, their largest division lead since they were 9 1/2 games up on the New York Yankees on Sept. 6, 1997.

The Orioles also won their 39th road game this season, the most in the AL. In their last 17 road games -- in which the Orioles are 12-5 -- the Orioles pitching staff has a 2.37 ERA. The club's rotation has a 2.82 ERA in that span.

“It’s a good quality to have because when we get down the stretch, we’re going to play some important road games,” said reliever Darren O’Day, who stranded the potential go-ahead run in the eighth inning with the Orioles holding a one-run lead, of the team’s success on the road. “And in the playoffs you obviously have to play on the road, so it’s a good quality to have.”

The Orioles are a majors-best 31-13 since June 30, and the club's starting rotation has allowed three runs or fewer in 37 of those 44 games (84 percent). The entire staff has a 2.87 ERA in that span.

Chen (13-4) allowed just three runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings, recording his sixth win in his last seven decisions.

Chen recovered nicely from allowing a two-run homer to White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia in the bottom of the first inning. After the home run, Chen retired the next 10 batters before giving up a leadoff double to Paul Konerko in the fifth.

Chen maintained the 3-2 lead, however, stranding Konerko at third base. He induced back-to-back groundouts to Pearce at first base before striking out No. 9 hitter Leury Garcia to end the inning.

“The same with Tilly,” Showalter said, referring to Chris Tillman recovering from giving up a first-inning homer in Tuesday’s win. “Sometimes osmosis will take over if you keep watching other guys do it and you know you’re capable of doing it.

"[Pitching coach] Dave [Wallace] talks all the time about minimizing damage if something happens. You get back on the horse and keep your team engaged. There’s been some times in the past where we’ve let that get away from us.”

Trailing, 2-0, Pearce sent the first pitch of the fourth inning into the left-field stands for his 13th homer of the season. Pearce, who is now essentially in an everyday role with Manny Machado injured and Chris Davis filling in at third base, has six extra-base hits (four doubles, two homers) in his last four games.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.