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Orioles' Gonzalez breaks skid, beats White Sox

The SportsXchange

BALTIMORE -- Miguel Gonzalez entered his Thursday start riding a career-worst, four-game losing streak, and he was coming off a start in which he allowed a career-high seven runs.

Back home Thursday, the Baltimore right-hander got on track as the Orioles, trying to pass several teams in the wild-card chase, beat the Chicago White Sox 3-1. Solo homers from Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Brian Roberts provided all of Baltimore's offense.

Gonzalez (9-7) allowed one run on four hits in seven innings. He struck out six and walked one while throwing exactly 100 pitches.

"In New York, I was throwing the ball good but I rushed a little bit," said Gonzalez, referring to his poor outing Aug. 30 against the Yankees. "I didn't do what I have been doing the whole year.

"Every win is important for us. I am happy we got those three runs. It was fun to go a little deeper and get the win."

Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said of Gonzalez: "He was on a mission tonight. He (kept) the ball down in the zone consistently. A lot of the counts were in his favor."

The Orioles (74-65) returned home after a 3-6 road trip for a crucial homestand.

The White Sox (56-83) lost their seventh game in a row. The only run they scored came when Alejandro De Aza grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and no outs in the third inning.

"Gonzalez pitched well. He really pitched from behind well," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "We got him in that situation and he gets a double play to really get out of it. The solo homers, they count."

Of the losing skid, Ventura said, "It's frustrating. You just keep going. There is nothing else you can do."

It was the first career appearance against the White Sox for Gonzalez, who was the top starter down the stretch last season as the Orioles made the playoffs in his first season with Baltimore.

"I know a lot of guys were talking about his stuff," said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who was hitless in four at-bats. "I actually got good pitches to hit, pitches I was looking for in counts, I just took bad swings. But I know a lot of guys were saying his ball was jumping well and all that, but I actually saw him pretty well. I just took bad swings."

Tommy Hunter came on to pitch a scoreless eighth for the Orioles, and closer Jim Johnson picked up his league-leading 42nd save by retiring the side in order in the ninth.

Chicago starter Jose Quintana (7-6) gave up three runs in seven innings.

Jones gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the first with a solo homer to left. It was the 30th homer of the year for Jones, who drove in his 100th run.

Hardy went deep to lead off the fifth, his 25th home run of the year. He became the fourth active player to record 25-plus homers at least three years in a row as a shortstop, joining Alex Rodriguez (seven years), Miguel Tejada (six years) and Troy Tulowitzki (three years).

"For me it is not time to think about personal stuff," Hardy said. "If it helps win the ballgame, that is great. This was huge tonight. We need to get on a streak."

Showalter called Hardy the most fundamentally sound shortstop he has ever had.

"I have run out of things to describe J.J.," the manager said. "He is so consistent. He picks his words carefully. He is so unselfish."

With two outs in the fifth, Roberts hit his fourth homer of the season.

The Orioles began the night four games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second wild-card spot in the American League.

NOTES: The Orioles recalled RHP Steve Johnson from Triple-A Norfolk and optioned LHP Zach Britton to short-season Aberdeen, which is in the New York-Penn League playoffs. Baltimore also reinstated RHP Jason Hammel from the 15-day disabled list. ... Orioles RF Nick Markakis did not start, but he entered as a defensive replacement. "He is fine," said Showalter, who wanted to give the veteran a mental day off. ... White Sox C Tyler Flowers underwent right shoulder surgery Thursday at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. According to the team, the recovery time should be about two to three months.
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