Washington (AFP) - Left-handed hurler Jose Quintana made a stellar debut for the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, striking out 12 in seven scoreless innings as the World Series champions beat the Orioles 8-0 in Baltimore.
The Cubs acquired the 28-year-old Colombian from the cross-town rival Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
"I felt a little nervous in the first inning," he admitted. "But, after a couple of throws, I threw everything out and could focus on my game."
The Cubs, who ended the longest championship drought in North American sport last year by winning their first World Series since 1908, had ended the first half of the season with a 43-45 record and trailing the Milwaukee Brewers by 5 1/2 games in the National League Central division.
But they have opened the second half of the season with a three-game sweep of the Orioles, scoring 27 runs and hitting 10 home runs in the series.
The Cubs climbed back over .500 at 46-45 and pulled within 4 1/2 games of the Brewers -- who lost at home to the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 on Sunday.
"The most impressive part has been the energy," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I really believe if we play with that kind of internal fire and energy, we are going to win a lot of games in the second half.
"That's the difference for me. It's just how we feel about ourselves."