Cruz hits 33rd HR, Orioles sweep White SoxBaltimore Orioles' Nelson Cruz hits a two-run home run off Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Hector Noesi, also scoring Adam Jones, during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Chicago. Watching the play behind the plate are catcher Adrian Nieto and umpire Eric Cooper. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
That's not a bad way to be with the Orioles these days.
Cruz took the major league lead with his 33rd home run and the surging Orioles completed a three-game sweep of the White Sox. Adam Jones and Steve Pearce also homered as the Orioles won their fourth straight and extended their AL East lead to nine games over second-place Toronto.
Cruz matched his career high for homers and moved one ahead of White Sox rookie Jose Abreu and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton.
''It's just personal stuff. I'm happy because we're winning,'' Cruz said. ''That's the main goal here.''
It's clear then that the Orioles are reaching plenty of their goals.
Baltimore posted its first sweep in Chicago over the White Sox since July 1995. And it did so thanks to its power - the Orioles hit three homers off Hector Noesi (7-9) and lead baseball with 161.
Baltimore also got plenty of pitching, with Wei-Yin Chen (13-4) going 7 1-3 innings and allowing three runs and six hits before Zach Britton picked up his 27th save in 30 tries. That was good news for the noisy, orange-clad Orioles fans who made up a decent portion of the crowd and saw their team improve to 39-26 on the road.
''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.''
Chen fell behind early when he allowed a two-run homer in the first to Avisail Garcia and left in the eighth leading 4-3 after allowing one-out singles to Alexei Ramirez and Alejandro De Aza.
But Darren O'Day struck out Abreu then Garcia to end the threat.
''That's a tough spot for them and (O'Day) came through big,'' White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. ''You get a guy, a sidewinder like that, it's a tough at-bat for those guys.''
Noesi went seven innings as the White Sox fell a season-high nine games below .500.
''You know, when you miss a pitch, you miss the location they go for it,'' Noesi said.
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.''