CHICAGO – Nick Markakis hit a two-run homer and prevented one with a leaping catch in right field, and Nelson Cruz and J.J. Hardy each added a solo shot to power the Baltimore Orioles past the White Sox, 8-2, Monday night.
Markakis was 3 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs, helping the Orioles increase their AL East lead to 71/2 games over the idle New York Yankees.
Cruz hit his 32nd homer, passing Sox rookie Jose Abreu for the American League lead. Cruz is tied with Mike Stanton of the Miami Marlins for most in the majors.
Bud Norris (11-7) allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings to win his third straight start.
Sox ace Chris Sale (10-3) yielded three runs and eight hits in six innings. He has dropped two straight decisions.
Avisail Garcia drove in both the Sox’s runs.
Sale worked out of a jam in the first inning after allowing the first two batters to reach on singles.
The left-hander wasn’t as fortunate in the second when Hardy stroked a 1-0 pitch into the left-field bullpen for a 1-0 Baltimore lead.
The Orioles stretched it to 2-0 in the fifth. Markakis singled with one out and Steve Pearce followed with an RBI double to center.
Cruz led off the sixth with a homer to left.
Meanwhile, Norris faced the minimum through six innings. But he quickly found himself in trouble in the seventh after hitting Alejandro De Aza with a pitch and giving up a double to Alexei Ramirez that put runners on second and third with the heart of the Chicago lineup coming up.
Abreu, though, flied out to shallow center and Adam Dunn struck out. It appeared Norris might escape with his shutout intact, but Garcia came through with a two-run single to make it 3-2.
When Conor Gillaspie followed with a drive to deep right field, it appeared Norris might suddenly be headed to a loss. But Markakis raced back to the fence and made a leaping grab.
The Orioles then broke it open with a five-run eighth. Jonathan Schoop doubled in three runs and Markakis hit a two-run homer.
Orioles: 3B Manny Machado will miss at least another week with a sprained right knee he sustained while taking a swing last Monday. Machado didn’t play this season until May 1 because of surgery on his left knee in the offseason.
White Sox: CF Adam Eaton (strained right oblique) continues to make progress and the hope is he’ll be ready to return when he’s eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list Sunday. Eaton, though, is likely to go to the minors for a rehab stint before then. “I don’t know if it would have to be that long, but you would like to see him make sure that he is feeling 100 percent,” manager Robin Ventura said.
In the second game of the series Tuesday night, Orioles RHP Chris Tillman (9-5, 3.68 ERA) faces LHP Jose Quintana (6-9, 3.14).