CHICAGO – The White Sox reached their low point of the season by falling nine games under .500, yet took something positive out of their 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.
Avisail Garcia hit his first home run since he returned from the disabled list last weekend. His last homer came on April 8, one day before he tore the labrum in his left shoulder.
"Yeah, it's hard because I lost a lot off-time," Garcia said. "To be here, you have got to work hard for that because the pitching is nice. So you have to focus hard."
The White Sox were in position to take the lead in the eighth, when Alexei Ramirez and Alejandro De Aza singled with one out. But right-hander Darren O'Day entered the game and struck out Jose Abreu and Garcia.
"Against a sidewinder like that, yeah, it's a tough at-bat for those guys," manager Robin Ventura said. "We had opportunities even early on."
Nelson Cruz took the major league lead with his 33rd home run and the surging Orioles completed a three-game sweep, their first over the White Sox in Chicago since July 1995.
Adam Jones and Steve Pearce also homered for the Orioles, who extended their AL East lead to nine games over second-place Toronto. Baltimore has hit 161 as a team this year, the most in the majors.
Cruz's homer was a two-run shot in the fourth off Hector Noesi that gave Baltimore a 3-2 lead. Cruz is one ahead of Abreu and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton for the homer lead.
Noesi (7-9) allowed seven hits, including three homers. The right-hander walked none and struck out eight in seven innings.
"When you leave a pitch up, they're going to get you," Noesi said. "When you miss a pitch on your location, they go for it."
Wei-Yin Chen (13-4) went 7 1-3 innings and allowed three runs and six hits.
Zach Britton picked up his 27th save in 30 tries in front of a Chicago crowd that included several hundred enthusiastic, orange-clad Orioles fans.
Orioles: 3B Manny Machado reported his sprained right ankle had been slow to respond to treatment and exercises.
White Sox: General manager Rick Hahn said OF Adam Eaton (strained right oblique) could be off the disabled list next week and will go on a rehab assignment soon.
Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (7-4, 3.70) faces Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta (6-4, 2.61) on Friday at Wrigley Field. Arrieta spent parts of four seasons with the Orioles before being traded last July to Chicago.
White Sox: LHP John Danks (9-8, 4.94) faces Yankees RHP Shane Greene (3-1, 2.91) on Friday in New York. Danks is 2-2 with a 6.20 ERA since July 1.
CLOSE TO HOME
Curt Schilling's revelation of oral cancer hit home to Showalter, who called the ex-pitcher "one of the favorite players I ever had (managed)." Schilling blamed his condition on smokeless tobacco, which Showalter said he used occasionally. "It's a very serious issue," Showalter said.
There has been speculation that Carlos Rodon, the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft, could be called up by the White Sox before the end of the season. But Hahn said "there is nothing set in stone in terms of him coming here or not coming here."