CHICAGO — Squint hard enough Monday night, and what the Orioles hoped this would be all along showed itself in a 3-2 win over the White Sox before a sparse crowd on the South Side.
Their stars, including Manny Machado, homered. The defense took runs off the board. Andrew Cashner pitched well, then avoided disaster, and handed it off to a lockdown bullpen.
Who cares that it took the first of four dates with the only team with a worse record than the Orioles to bring it out of them? They added a fifth road win to their tally and improved to 15-32 overall, putting some distance between themselves and the hosts, whose 13-31 record is the worst in the game.
Someone has to win. On Monday, it was the Orioles, and they’ve lost to enough fellow bad teams this season to know that beating one is nothing to spit at.
“This game was a total team win,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “When we play fundamentally sound baseball like that, things tend to happen.”
With three solo home runs representing their only production, and just five hits overall, they won Monday by reversing the groan-inducing manner in which Sunday's loss came in Boston, when they left 14 men on base without a run.
Machado's third-inning solo home run, his 15th blast of the season, was the team's 38th solo shot of the year. Mark Trumbo made 39 with a home run to open the fifth, and Jones hit his eighth of the season with the bases empty in the sixth inning to make it an even 40.
Only one team entered Monday with more solo home runs, but runs are runs.
“Usually, three solo home runs you don't win a game,” manager Buck Showalter said. “You're going to have to pitch really well.”
After five sturdy innings from Cashner, things went haywire in a sixth inning during which some phenomenal relief from Mychal Givens made sure the Orioles wouldn't rue the one real chance they got to hang a crooked number.
In the top of the sixth, the White Sox handed Machado his eighth intentional walk of the season with nobody on and one out in the inning. Jonathan Schoop promptly singled, but Danny Valencia popped out and Trumbo struck out looking to leave them both, keeping the score 3-1.
“‘We had some opportunities to drive in runs with guys on base,” Jones said. “Not too many, but we had a couple. Unsuccessful. But … we had three solos, and our pitching staff held us down tonight. It's good to see them pick us up.”
Thanks to two outfield assists by Trey Mancini, Chicago had scored only once in the fifth despite heating up once the lineup turned over a third time against Cashner. But the sixth inning continued the hit parade with a pair of doubles around a single by Matt Davidson to chase Cashner and put the go-ahead run on second base with no outs for Givens.
Givens went on to retire six straight, and Richard Bleier added a scoreless eighth before Brad Brach's seventh save was clinched with a tense ninth. His own one-out walk of No. 9 hitter Adam Engel made it so, and the bases were loaded when he struck out Trayce Thompson to end the game.
“It seems like every win we come by, it's like we're scratching and clawing until the last out — last strike really,” Brach said. “It'd be nice to win one of these games without any drama, but that seems to be the way it's going this year.”
Cashner earned his second win of the season and improved his ERA to 4.72, allowing two runs on eight hits with three walks and four strikeouts in five-plus innings.