CHICAGO — Squint hard enough Monday night, and what the Baltimore Orioles hoped this season would be all along showed itself in a 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox before a sparse crowd on the South Side.
Their stars, including Manny Machado, homered. The defense took runs off the board. Andrew Cashner pitched well, then avoided disaster and handed it to a lockdown bullpen.
Who cares that it took the first of four dates with the only team with a worse record than the Orioles to bring it out of them? They added a fifth road win to their tally and improved to 15-32, putting some distance between themselves and the hosts, whose 13-31 record is the worst in the majors.
Someone has to win. On Monday, it was the Orioles, and they’ve lost to enough bad teams this season to know beating one is nothing to spit at.
With three solo homers representing their entire production and just five hits overall, they won by reversing the groan-inducing manner in which Sunday’s loss came in Boston, when they left 14 men on base without a run.
Machado’s third-inning solo home run, his 15th blast of the season, was the team’s 38th solo shot of the year. Mark Trumbo made it 39 to open the fifth, and Adam Jones hit his eighth of the season with the bases empty in the sixth to make it an even 40.
Only one team entered Monday with more solo home runs, but runs are runs, and some phenomenal relief from Mychal Givens made sure the Orioles wouldn’t rue the one chance they had to hang a crooked number.
In the sixth, the White Sox handed Machado his eighth intentional walk of the season with nobody on and one out. Jonathan Schoop promptly singled, but Danny Valencia popped out and Trumbo struck out looking to leave them both, keeping the score 3-1.
Thanks to two assists by Trey Mancini in left field, Chicago only scored once in the fifth despite heating up once the lineup got its third shot at Cashner, but the sixth inning continued the hit parade with a pair of doubles around a Matt Davidson single to chase Cashner, putting the go-ahead run on second base with no outs for Givens.
But he went on to retire six straight, and Richard Bleier added a scoreless eighth before Brad Brach’s seventh save was clinched with a tense ninth. His own one-out walk of No. 9 hitter Adam Engel made it so, and the bases were loaded when he struck out Trayce Thompson to end the game.