CHICAGO — The Orioles had already shown once how one swing could sweep away several games worth of frustrating at-bats, but in the top of the ninth inning Saturday afternoon, White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia wasn't going to let another lead slip away.
After the Orioles ended their 26-inning scoring drought on Manny Machado's game-tying, two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning, the Orioles fell behind again by allowing a run in the bottom half of that inning.
Down to their second-to-last out, Orioles right fielder Chris Davis sent a ball deep to right field off White Sox closer David Robertson — an almost-certain game-tying homer — but Garcia tracked the ball, timed his jump perfectly and reached his glove high over the right-field fence and brought the ball back in for a game-saving catch.
As Davis rounded first, he pointed to Garcia in right as a subtle acknowledgment of the most pivotal play in the Orioles' 3-2 loss to the White Sox in front of an announced Fourth of July crowd of 20,765 at U.S. Cellular Field.
"Most balls that Chris hits out there, you think [are out]," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "But the ball wasn't carrying that well today. Couple balls I thought were going to go deeper than they did. He made a heck of a play, but I don't assume it, I didn't know for sure."
Not only have the Orioles (42-39) begun their six-game road trip to Chicago and Minnesota with back-to-back losses, they have lost three straight and five of their last six. Despite remaining in second place, the Orioles dropped to two games out of first in the American League East.
The Orioles have scored just two runs over their last three games.
"We didn't score yesterday and then today I think we went eight innings without it, so they're pitching well," Machado said. "They're pitching really well. They've got a good staff over there and they're doing what they've got to do. So, we've got to clean our stuff up and go out there tomorrow and start swinging."
White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija handcuffed the Orioles, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning and a shutout into the eighth. But immediately after Samardzija left the game, Machado tied it with his 17th home run of the season.
Machado's two-run homer off White Sox reliever Zach Putnam with two outs in the eighth sparked late life into an Orioles team with little offensive punch, but it wasn't enough to snap the O's recent skid.
Immediately after tying the game, the Orioles fell behind in the bottom of the eighth. The White Sox capitalized on a leadoff walk by Bud Norris, making his fourth relief appearance of his career and his first since 2013.
Norris, who had been officially demoted to the bullpen Friday, retired the first seven batters he faced before walking Gordon Beckham to open the eighth. After Beckham moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, Darren O'Day entered the game and pinch hitter J.B. Shuck hit a double just inside the first-base line to score the game-winning run.
"It's a little too late for that, but we've just got to keep battling," Machado said of the Orioles comeback. "That's something we do around here. We keep fighting to the last out and that's what we've got to keep doing. Today we came up short, but tomorrow is another day."
Samardzija held the Orioles to three hits over 7 2/3 innings. Despite entering the day with a 5.75 ERA over his last six starts, he made relatively easy work of the Orioles.
Samardzija faced the minimum number of batters through 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one baserunner over that span. After walking Machado to open the game, Samardzija retired 16 straight before allowing a hit.
"His fastball, changeup was there," Showalter said. "He mixed in some cutters. Everything he has at his disposal was there for him."
Orioles second baseman Ryan Flaherty — who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game to make room for the return of second baseman Jonathan Schoop from the disabled list — broke up Samardzija's no-hit bid in the sixth, hitting a two-out single up the middle.
Before Flaherty's hit, the Orioles hit just three balls out of the infield. Samardzija struck out six over that span, including four straight in the second and third innings.
The Orioles had their best opportunity against Samardzija in the seventh inning. Jimmy Paredes opened the inning with a single, and two batters later Davis also singled.
They had two opportunities to plate a run, but couldn't. Matt Wieters struck out swinging, flailing at an outside pitch and losing his bat in the process. After both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, Samardzija struck out Chris Parmelee looking to end the threat.
Orioles starter Chris Tillman lasted just 4 2/3 inning, allowing 11 base runners (10 hits and one walk).
Tillman couldn't capitalize on his strong outing in his last start — he threw seven shutout innings in Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader against the Indians. He struggled from the start, battling through a 26-pitch first inning that saw Chicago go up 1-0 on Garcia's two-out RBI single.
The White Sox went head 2-0 in the fifth when Jose Abreu hit a triple into the right-center field gap just out of the reach of center fielder Adam Jones and then scored on Melky Cabrera's sacrifice fly.
"It was a grind," Tillman said. "They spoiled a lot of good pitches. I think for the most part I commanded my stuff. I had pretty good fastball command, a good changeup, breaking ball was there. For the most part, it was really good. I would say two pitches got me."