White Sox-Orioles Preview

In a matchup of two of the AL’s hottest teams, the Baltimore

Orioles struck first.

Regardless of that outcome, there’s no disputing which club has

the advantage in the second game of this four-game set between

playoff contenders.

Coming off their first loss in seven contests, the Chicago White

Sox appear to be in good position to rebound with Chris Sale taking

the mound Tuesday night against the Orioles.

After completing a perfect six-game homestand, the White Sox

(71-56) hoped to continue their momentum in the opener of a

seven-game trip Monday. They took a 3-2 lead in the top of the

eighth inning before Nate McLouth’s two-run homer in the bottom

half gave the Orioles a 4-3 victory.

Baltimore overcame a pair of one-run deficits in its

franchise-record 13th consecutive one-run win.

“This is as good of a club as I’ve ever had about staying in the

moment,” manager Buck Showalter said. “That’s a challenge when you

are around so many things that aren’t really realistic, to stay

together and challenge the things that really are important.”

McLouth’s second homer in five games continued an unlikely

season for the Orioles, who also got a home run from Lew Ford – his

first since July 29, 2007, with Minnesota.

Asked if he ever doubted something like this could happen after

being released by Pittsburgh at the end of May, McLouth replied,

“Maybe. I think that’s probably fair to say. But I love playing

baseball. The Orioles were gracious to give me an opportunity and

I’m happy to be here. I’m excited. It’s been fun so far.”

With its third straight win and 15th in 21 games, Baltimore

(70-57) moved into a tie with Oakland for the top wild-card spot

and pulled within 3 1/2 games of the East-leading Yankees.

A win Tuesday would put the Orioles 14 games over .500 for the

first time since they were 42-28 on June 21, 2005.

Chicago, meanwhile, had its lead in the Central trimmed to two

games over idle Detroit with its fourth straight road loss. Kevin

Youkilis hit a two-run homer and is batting .333 with six home runs

and 18 RBIs in his last 13 games at Camden Yards.

Sale (15-4, 2.65 ERA) was outstanding again in his most recent

appearance, allowing only Derek Jeter’s solo homer and two other

hits while striking out 13 in 7 2-3 innings of a 2-1 victory over

the Yankees on Wednesday.

The left-hander – among the major league wins leaders – agreed

that his performance was perhaps the best of his young career.

“If it’s not, it’s up there for sure,” Sale said. “That’s one

to build on. Just try to use it for my next outing.”

Sale has won 12 of his last 14 decisions and has struck out 36

in 29 innings spanning four August starts. He’s 1-2 with a 6.30 ERA

in his last three road outings, however.

This will be his first start versus the Orioles after posting a

5.06 ERA in six relief outings.

Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones went 0 for 4 in the opener

and is homerless in 108 at-bats, tying the longest drought of his

career.

Chris Tillman (6-2, 3.71) will be pitching on six days’ rest

after his scheduled start Sunday was postponed due to rain. After

giving up nine runs over 10 1-3 innings in his previous two starts

– both at home – the right-hander limited Texas to three runs and

six hits while striking out seven over 6 2-3 of a 5-3 road win last

Tuesday.

He’s split two career starts against the White Sox, yielding six

runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings of a 6-3 loss on Aug. 11,

2011.

Chicago shortstop Alexei Ramirez is 4 for 5 with a homer off

Tillman.