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Jonathan Schoop homers, Miguel Gonzalez rebounds as Orioles snap skid with 9-1 win over White Sox

Before making his first big league start in 11 weeks, Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop admitted he was dealing with a mixture of emotions. He was both excited and nervous. He said it felt much like his first day in the majors. He told teammates on the bus ride over to U.S. Cellular Field that they'd have to help him out because he felt like a rookie again.

Schoop also joked that he had been wasting too many homers while on his rehab assignment in the minor leagues. Schoop — who returned from the disabled list Sunday from a right knee injury he suffered in mid April — had hit four homers in the last six games of his rehab stint in the minors.

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And just two pitches into his first at-bat off the DL on Sunday afternoon, Schoop homered into the left-field seats, his towering blast invigorating a struggling Orioles offense in their commanding 9-1 victory over the White Sox in front of an announced 22,519.

"As soon as it left the bat, I said, 'Really?'" Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I guess he just thought it was Frederick or Bowie or somewhere else."

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Schoop's homer, his fourth in nine major league games this season, propelled the Orioles to their largest offensive output since a 13-9 win in Toronto two weeks ago. The nine runs the Orioles scored on Sunday were more than they managed in their previous four games combined. The Orioles (43-39) had scored just two runs over their last three games.

With the win, the Orioles are in a second-place tie with the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East, just one game behind the division-leading New York Yankees. Despite their offensive struggles, the Orioles salvaged one win here on Chicago's South Side before heading to Minnesota, where they will end their six-game road trip with three games against the Twins.

Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez continued a string of strong starting performances, allowing just one run on four hits over six innings, recording the Orioles' fourth quality start in their last five games. Orioles starters have posted an 1.69 ERA over the last five games.

It was Gonzalez's best outing since returning from the DL on June 25. Gonzalez had allowed 10 runs over 9 1/3 innings in his two previous starts.

"He's so strong mentally," Showalter said of Gonzalez. "There's a little pressure in that game, if you get swept, it's a hot day game, a dragging day after a big day yesterday. Miguel came in pitching with a purpose."

Adam Jones gave the Orioles their first lead of the series three batters into the game. After Nolan Reimold landed on second on two errors — one fielding and one throwing — on one play by White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie, Jones laced a 2-2 pitch down the left-field line for an RBI double to score Reimold.

Jones' hit was the Orioles' first with runners in scoring position in five games, snapping a 0-for-17 stretch. It also snapped a personal 0-for-11 slump for Jones.

With one out in the second inning, Schoop stepped up to the plate in a major league game for the first time since April 17 and jumped on a 0-1 changeup from White Sox starter Carlos Rodon and sent it about 10 rows deep into the left-field stands.

After rounding the bases, a smiling Schoop was welcomed into the Orioles dugout with a round of emphatic high fives from his teammates.

"I felt really good out there," Schoop said. "The nerves were out there. I was a little bit excited and nervous, everything, but I felt really good. I was joking around with [shortstop] J.J. [Hardy] and [third baseman] Manny [Machado], you guys help me out a little bit because [it's like] I'm still a rookie here, you know?"

With two outs in the sixth, No. 9 hitter Caleb Joseph ended a 10-pitch at bat with a two-run double to give the Orioles a 4-0 lead over the White Sox (36-43). Joseph is hitting .341 (14-for-41) this season with runners in scoring position.

They also plated four runs in the seventh, taking advantage of two of the White Sox's four errors on the day while receiving back-to-back run-scoring singles from Chris Davis and Steve Pearce off White Sox reliever Daniel Webb.

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Davis had a home run taken away from him for the second time in as many games in the eighth inning as left fielder J.B. Shuck brought his opposite-field drive back into the park. Davis' sacrifice fly still plated Jones from third, putting the Orioles' up 9-1.

With the Orioles leading 2-0, Gonzalez escaped an early jam in the third. With two outs in the inning, he hit No. 9 hitter Carlos Sanchez and allowed a double to leadoff hitter Adam Eaton — Chicago's first hit off Gonzalez — to put two runners in scoring position.

But Gonzalez struck out White Sox slugger Jose Abreu, getting him swinging on a split-finger fastball to end the inning.

"We all know he has power and you've got to make pitches no matter what, if it's a tie ballgame or we're winning by eight or losing by eight," Gonzalez said.

The only run off Gonzalez came in the sixth on Melky Cabrera's run-scoring hit into the right-center field gap, but Schoop made a pinpoint relay throw to third to nab Cabrera trying to stretch a double into a triple.

"That was just Schoopy," Gonzalez said. "That's phenomenal. We all know what he's capable of doing and we're happy to have him back. We all know that in the second inning he hit that homer and he's feeling confident. He's feeling healthy now and we're happy to have him."

eencina@baltun.com

twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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