BALTIMORE – Jose Quintana is well aware of the lofty expectations that came with his trade to the Cubs.
He certainly dazzled his new teammates in his debut.
Quintana struck out a season-high 12 in seven sharp innings and the Cubs beat the Baltimore Orioles, 8-0, Sunday for a three-game sweep.
"It was my first outing with the Cubs, but after the first inning, I felt really good," Quintana said. "I threw everything in the first inning and just focused on making quick outs."
Acquired by the defending World Series champions during the All-Star break from the White Sox for a playoff push, Quintana gave the Cubs exactly the kind of boost they hoped to get.
"It could really be a big boon to us, there's no question," Cubsmanager Joe Maddon said. "Everybody else saw it."
The lefty ace allowed three hits, walked none and joined Matt Garza as the only pitchers in Cubs history to fan 12 in their debut.
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo homered to help the Cubs move over .500 for the first time since June 29. The Cubs hit 10 home runs during the sweep at Camden Yards.
The Cubs took advantage of another wild start by Ubaldo Jimenez (4-5) and opened a 4-0 lead in the second. Willson Contreras added a career-high four hits.
The Cubs traded their top two prospects, outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-hander Dylan Cease, along with infielders Matt Rose and Bryant Flete, to get Quintana. He was 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA for the Sox.
The Cubs began the day 5 1/2 games behind in the races for the NL Central and second wild-card spot.
"We're playing a world champion team that everyone knew was going to get going at some point," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Unfortunately, they started here. They're on the top of their game. They have a lot of good pieces. We were not up to the challenge."
Quintana retired nine straight batters until Adam Jones led off the fourth with a double. This was the 10th time in his career, and third this season, he fanned at least 10.
"All the other starters saw it. They saw that we grabbed a lead and there was no messing around. There was no walks. There was no bad counts."
Ian Happ had a two-run double and scored on Jason Heyward's single in the second. Heyward stole second and scored the fourth run on a two-out single by Ben Zobrist.
A two-run homer by Bryant, his 19th, boosted the margin to 6-0 in the fourth.
Jimenez allowed six runs and 11 hits, one shy of tying a career-high, over 3 2/3 innings. He has not pitched past the fifth inning in four of his past five starts.
Rizzo hit his 22nd home run in the ninth off Darren O'Day.
"I really believe if we play with that kind of internal fire, that kind of energy we'll win a lot of games in the second half," Maddon said.
It was the Cubs' second consecutive sweep of the Orioles; they took three from Baltimore in 2014. The Cubs also improved to 9-3 all-time against Baltimore.
The Orioles were shut out for the seventh time this season and struck out 14 times, two shy of their season high.
Cubs: LHP Brett Anderson (back) allowed five runs (three earned) and eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk over 4 1/3 innings Saturday for Double-A Tennessee. He is 1-2 with 5.06 ERA in five rehab appearances.
Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy's rib injury is fully healed, but he remains on the DL with a right wrist fracture.
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (5-6, 4.25 ERA) is slated to start Monday against Atlanta RHP Julio Teheran (7-6, 4.79). Lester is looking to bounce back from his last outing when he allowed 10 runs (four earned) in 2/3 of an inning – the shortest start of his 12-year career.
Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.90) takes the mound Monday against Texas, trying to earn his first win since May 7. The Rangers will counter with RHP Andrew Cashner (4-7, 3.54).