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Yovani Gallardo, occasional 'hiccup' aside, settling into back end of Orioles rotation

CHICAGO — Right-hander Yovani Gallardo's up-and-down season continued Friday with six sturdy innings and his fourth win of the year in the Orioles' 7-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox, with the veteran right-hander steering clear of trouble late in the game.

Gallardo cruised through the first three innings on 41 pitches, and though he needed that many to get out of the fourth and fifth innings, he said it was the kind of progression he needed. He didn't allow a hit in any of Chicago's six chances with runners in scoring position, limiting the damage against him to a home run by first baseman Jose Abreu and a double that scored third baseman Todd Frazier from first base, both in the fourth inning.

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"I think it's just getting ahead of guys, making big pitches whenever I have to," Gallardo said. "It's just one of those things that I said I've been feeling pretty good on in those situations.

The O's bullpen and — conspired to make a comfortable game close again Friday at U.S. Cellular Field.

"Sometimes, just allowing myself the opportunity, just by the way the game starts — just pounding the strike zone and getting guys to swing the bat early, it just opens everything else to where you're able to make some big pitches, whether it be a little bit off the plate or that sort of thing. There was some good defense behind me today. Double plays, then J.J. [Hardy], the one inning there were three ground balls to him. But it's just being aggressive, being aggressive in the zone."

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Since his return from the disabled list after shoulder soreness cost him nearly two months, Gallardo has posted a 4.97 ERA (30 runs in 54 1/3 innings) with 42 strikeouts and 32 walks. He has an identical ERA in five starts since the All-Star break, an overall improvement that has pulled his season ERA down from 7.00 to 5.47.

"He's been pitching well for us since the break," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's been pretty solid, with a hiccup here or there. We felt like Yovani, when he got healthy, he was going to be a contributor to us, and tonight was a good example of that."

Gallardo's responsibilities in the Orioles rotation have changed since his return, however, with rookie Dylan Bundy quickly ascending to a top spot behind top starter Chris Tillman. Kevin Gausman, who seems perpetually on the cusp of a breakout, is in that top tier as well.

That leaves Gallardo and newly acquired left-hander Wade Miley to steady themselves in their turns through the rotation. Gallardo held up his end with six solid innings Friday. He's now posted three quality starts (at least six innings and three earned runs or fewer) in 14 starts. The Orioles are 7-3 in his 10 starts since coming off the DL.

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