After spending the better part of three months finding ways to lose, the Orioles and their new manager suddenly can't seem to lose.
Adam Jones' two-out single to left off Tony Pena in the 10th inning gave the Orioles a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox before an announced 19,687 at Camden Yards. It was the Orioles' fourth straight victory under manager Buck Showalter and the second night in a row where they won in their final at-bat.
Nick Markakis, who hit a one-out single for his fourth hit of the night, scored easily from third base on Jones' hit and the Orioles poured out of the dugout to celebrate another dramatic victory.
It was also redemption for Jones, who didn't come through in the bottom of the eighth when the Orioles had runners on second and third and no outs and they couldn't score. Pena retired Ty Wigginton on a lineout right at third baseman Dayan Viciedo. After intentionally walking Luke Scott to load the bases, Pena got Adam Jones to pop out in the infield and then he struck out pinch hitter Corey Patterson to escape the jam.
Brad Bergesen had his second straight strong start, allowing just one run on Gordon Beckham's third-inning homer and five hits over seven innings. In his last two starts, Bergesen has surrendered just three earned runs in 14 innings.
His outing Friday night gave the Orioles their fourth straight quality start, the first time all season the rotation has accomplished that feat.
Bergesen did benefit from a great defensive sequence that kept the game tied through the top of the seventh. Mark Kotsay tripled with just one out, forcing the Orioles to bring the infield in. Alexei Ramirez hit a dribbler down the first base line, which Wigginton bare-handed and fired to catcher Matt Wieters, who adeptly blocked the plate and made the tag on Kotsay.
Markakis then ran down A.J. Pierzynski's drive just in front of the right-field wall
The Chicago White Sox finished the first half with a 25-5 record and they were a major league-best 38-13 since June 9. They had also won nine of their last 11 coming into Camden Yards, presenting a far greater challenge than what was offered by the reeling Los Angeles Angels, who the Orioles swept in the first three games of the Buck Showalter era.
Asked about the Orioles maintaining the energy level that they showed in the Angels' series, Showalter said, "That's always a challenge. We played a team that is trying to get back into it in the West and we're playing a team that is winning the Central tonight. There should be some absolutes and givens regardless of who you are playing. That's one of the challenges of playing in the big leagues a lot of people don't get, especially young players."
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was hardly surprised that the Orioles got off to a good starter under Showalter.
"Those guys are going to play better for him for some reason. Buck is the type of guy who demands players, day in and day out, to play good baseball," Guillen said. "He only takes that job for a reason. He takes that job because he's a guy who maybe, hopefully can put those guys back where they want to be. I don't know him very well but when I see him with the organizations, he does a tremendous job. Believe me, I think they have good ballplayers, if you go player by player. Maybe their pitching staff is going to be better. I don't have anything against Baltimore managers in the past, but to me he seems like the right guy."
The Orioles got off to another good start as their first three batters hit singles off John Danks. Brian Roberts got it started with an infield single and then Markakis lined a base hit to right field. Wigginton scored Roberts with a single to left field.
That left the Orioles with runners on first and second with still no outs against Danks, who had won four of his last five starts. Danks, however, pitched out of it, striking out Scott and then retiring Jones and Julio Lugo on flyouts.
That started a stretch where Danks retired nine straight Orioles before Scott's leadoff single in the fourth. The Orioles had a good opportunity in the fifth after back-to-back singles from Roberts and Markakis. Wigginton hit a hard liner, but it was right at Juan Pierre in left field for the final out.
While the offense was being contained by Danks, Bergesen was doing his part and building off his previous outing in which he held the Kansas City Royals to two earned runs and five hits over seven innings.
Bergesen allowed base runners in each of the first innings, but he was only hurt by one pitch, a 2-1 sinker that No. 9 hitter Gordon Beckham belted in the left-field seats. The solo shot was Beckham's sixth on the season.
Mark Kotsay doubled off Bergesen in the fourth before the Orioles right-hander retired Alexei Rairez to end the inning and keep the score tied at one. It stayed that way through the top of the fifth, an inning that ended with Wieters throwing out Beckham trying to steal second.