A pair of pillars for the Orioles' success this season — their bullpen and their defense — conspired to make a comfortable game close again Friday at U.S. Cellular Field.
It still wasn't enough to stop them from sealing a 7-5 win over the Chicago White Sox, thanks to a pair of home runs by streaking designated hitter Pedro Alvarez and a 16-hit barrage before an announced 26,553.
"The game is not always fair,” manager Buck Showalter said. “But any time you’re on a rough, challenging road trip like this, you like to have guys start with a good night and a frame of mind to go forward."
Alvarez's second home run kicked off a three-run eighth inning that extended the Orioles' lead to 7-2, but a pair of walks and two base hits led to the rare midinning removal of reliever Darren O'Day, who was charged with three runs before the White Sox (52-57) ran themselves out of the inning.
White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton grounded out to first base with men on second and third and one out in the home half of the eighth inning, but catcher Dioner Navarro was caught off third base and doubled up to end the inning.
Zach Britton recorded his 34th save in 34 tries to close the game for the Orioles (62-46), with starter Yovani Gallardo (4-3) earning his fourth win of the season by allowing two runs in six innings of work.
"Overall, it felt good," Gallardo said. "A good team win."
Sorry, pal: There might be handshakes and hugs later this weekend, but the Orioles didn't exactly greet former teammate Miguel Gonzalez warmly Friday.
Gonzalez (2-6), who started for the White Sox and came to Chicago after the Orioles released him in spring training, allowed four runs — three earned — on 10 hits to suffer the loss. He pitched six innings, but it wasn't enough Friday.
Alvarez ascending: With two more home runs, Alvarez now has 18 on the season and six in his past five games for the Orioles. The designated hitter's eighth-inning blast was measured by Statcast at 452 feet, his longest of the season and the longest this season at U.S. Cellular Field.
"Just trying to be competitive," Alvarez said. "Like I’ve said, time after time, always try to take advantage of every opportunity I get. Every time I’m up, see how I can contribute to the team and have good, quality at-bats."
Everybody hits: The Orioles' 16 hits were their most since June 28, with center fielder Adam Jones, shortstop J.J. Hardy and third baseman Manny Machado leading the way with three apiece. Jones and Hardy drove in one run each, while Machado plated two with a third-inning double.
Errors are contagious: Friday won't be going on the Orioles' defensive-highlights reel. Catcher Matt Wieters has been throwing would-be base stealers out with regularity lately, but he bounced a throw into center field in the first inning, and Jones was saved from an error when his errant throw to third base hit the netting in front of the dugout.
The White Sox didn't score on that error, but they did plate their fourth in the eighth inning on a throwing error by second baseman Jonathan Schoop on an attempt at a double play.
Bad inning for Davis: A day after a short-hop ball got past him in the Texas Rangers' big fifth inning, first baseman Chris Davis had another night to forget. In the third inning, Davis saw a ground ball scoot past him. With Carlos Sanchez on first base, Gallardo picked him off and started a rundown, but Davis threw the ball into left field and Sanchez got out of it safely. Davis now has six errors on the season.
He was also the only Orioles player without a hit, striking out twice.
"We are a good defensive club, and tonight, we had some challenges," Showalter said. "I think it’s a great example of Chris’ moxie. He knows how good he is. There hasn’t been a better defensive first baseman all year. Tonight, I know he was frustrated, because he’s been such a contributor for us through thick and thin with the walks and the defense. But that was a key play."