Hoping to take the series in today's rubber match, the Orioles sent Zach Britton to the mound to face White Sox lefty Jose Quintana. Both starters pitched well, but Quintana was better, and the only Oriole runs would come in the eighth, largely because of an error by Adam Dunn. Dunn redeemed himself in the ninth by crushing a hanging breaking ball from Tommy Hunter for an opposite-field home run, giving the White Sox the win.
Jose Quintana does not, generally speaking, strike a ton of guys out. He struck out seven to eight batters per nine innings in the minors, and has averaged under six in his limited time in the majors. Today, however, he utterly dominated the Oriole lineup, striking out eleven batters while walking only one and allowing just two singles.
The only time the O's managed to start a rally against Quintana was in the first inning. With one out, Manny Machado bunted for a base hit, and Adam Jones drew a walk(!). Chris Davis then smacked a line drive up the middle, but right where shortstop Alexei Ramirez was positioned in a shift; Ramirez easily doubled up Machado, ending the threat. The Orioles would only get one more baserunner through the next six innings, when Nick Markakis singled in the third.
Zach Britton, to his credit, pitched pretty well himself. He lasted seven innings, got eleven groundouts to four flyouts, struck out three while walking only one, and the two runs he allowed were in part due to a questionable call. In the sixth, Alexei Ramirez hit a leadoff double, and Alex Rios drove him in with a single up the middle. Adam Jones made a great throw home, and Taylor Teagarden appeared to block the plate, but Ramirez was ruled safe and Rios advanced to second. Rios reached third on Dayan Viciedo's flyout to center, and Adam Dunn drove him in with an opposite-field single. Jeff Keppinger then grounded into a well-turned 5-4-3 double play, but the White Sox led, 2-0.
In the eighth, Jose Quintana finally left the ballgame, replaced by Nate Jones, and the Orioles responded with a little offense. Brian Roberts drew a leadoff walk, and Nate McLouth doubled down the right-field line, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Chris Dickerson (pinch-hitting for Nolan Reimold) lined out to second, robbed of a hit into the right-center gap by Gordon Beckham's leaping grab. Buck went to another pinch-hitter, sending Matt Wieters to replace Taylor Teagarden, and Matt hit a ground ball to Adam Dunn, who couldn't hang onto the ball, allowing Roberts to score, Wieters to reach first, and McLouth to advance to third. Nick Markakis then lifted a ball to right-center, well deep enough to score McLouth on a sacrifice fly, and tying the game at 2-2. Manny Machado struck out to end the inning.
Tommy Hunter looked pretty good in a 1-2-3 eighth, but the O's couldn't do anything in the ninth, and then Hunter gave up a one-out homer to Adam Dunn. O's lose, 3-2. With the loss, and a win by Boston, the O's are now 4.5 games back in the AL East. These series losses against struggling teams - 0-2 vs. the Padres, 1-2 each vs. the Mariners and White Sox thus far - are awfully frustrating; it's hard not to worry that they'll look even worse in September. Tomorrow, the O's play in New York, with Miguel Gonzalez facing Ivan Nova.