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Orioles edge White Sox to complete sweep

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[August 21, 2014]  CHICAGO -- So far, the Baltimore Orioles are enjoying their weeklong stay in the Windy City.

Backed by three home runs and another solid outing from their starting pitcher Wednesday night, the Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox 4-3 Wednesday night and swept a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.

First baseman Steve Pearce, left fielder Nelson Cruz and center fielder Adam Jones hit the homers to give left-handed starter Wei-Yin Chen just enough run support for the win, and the Orioles clinched their first sweep of the White Sox in Chicago since taking four straight games July 6-9, 1995.

The Orioles are now 12-5 in their past 17 road games and 39-26 on the road this season. Their lead is up to nine games over the Toronto Blue Jays and 9 1/2 over the New York Yankees in the American League East.

"If you pitch well, you give yourself some opportunities," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "There's some things we weren't perfect at tonight. When you pitch well, it can cover some things, and when you catch the baseball. We played three good defensive games here."

As a result, the Orioles (73-52) are a season-high 21 games over .500 heading across town Friday for a three-game interleague series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Chen gave up a two-run homer to White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia in the first inning, but allowed only one more run in his 7 1/3-inning outing -- also off Garcia's bat on a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Like Baltimore right-handers Bud Norris and Chris Tillman in the first two games, Chen settled into a quick pace and was economical with his pitches. He threw 86 pitches before exiting in the eighth with a 4-3 lead, one out and two runners on base after back-to-back singles.

"I would say everyone else (in the rotation) is pitching better than me, but I think it's a really good competition out there," Chen said through an interpreter. "We all try to pitch better than each other, so it's a really good competition."

Right-handed reliever Darren O'Day made sure Chen was credited with not only the win but his fourth consecutive quality start. O'Day struck out designated hitter Jose Abreu and Garcia to end the eighth and preserve the slim lead.

"That's a tough spot for them, and (O'Day) came through big," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "You get a guy, a sidewinder like that, it's a tough at-bat for those guys. We had opportunities. Even early on, (first baseman Paul Konerko) had a double and we weren't able to get him in, so we had some spots where we could have tied it up and didn't get the big hit."

Left-hander Zach Britton retired the side in order in the ninth for his 27th save to secure the sweep, which was Baltimore's third this season of three games or more.

Chicago right-hander Hector Noesi (7-9) pitched seven innings and allowed four runs on seven hits. He struck out eight and didn't issue a walk, but the three homers were too much to overcome.

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"When you leave pitches up, they're going to get you," Noesi said. "You know when you miss a pitch, you miss the location (and) they go for it."

Chicago (59-68) lost for the 10th time in 14 games, falling nine games below the .500 mark for the first time this season. Ventura, though, doesn't see the fire starting to flicker in his team during the "dog days" of August.

"No, they're competing," he said. "Effort-wise, they're coming in and competing. I'm impressed with that. They come and work, and effort-wise they're getting after it. The results might not be there right now, but effort-wise guys are doing what they're supposed to be doing."

Chen did what was expected of him too. He pitched another strong game against the White Sox, improving to 2-0 record and 3.26 ERA in five starts against them -- including his first major league win on April 17, 2012, at U.S. Cellular Field.

NOTES: White Sox CF Adam Eaton, on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right oblique, took batting practice before the game and is getting ready for a rehab stint with Triple-A Charlotte. He isn't likely to come off the DL on Sunday when he' is first eligible. ... Chicago's top position player prospect, 2B Micah Johnson, was shut down for the remainder of the season at Charlotte to allow an injured hamstring to fully heal. ... Chicago GM Rick Hahn said the club might call up more prospects than usual once the rosters expand in September. Among them could be LHP Carlos Rodon, the White Sox's No. 1 pick from this summer's draft (third overall). Hahn said Rodon, who struck out three in three innings in his Triple-A debut Tuesday night, appears to be on the fast track to the major leagues. ... Orioles manager Buck Showalter cautioned against assuming RHP Ubaldo Jimenez will stay in the bullpen long term. "He might start next week, I don't know," Showalter said. "We said that's where he's going to be for right now and we'll see what the needs of the club are (later)."

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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