Orioles-White Sox Preview
By JON PALMIERI
(AP) -- Despite a loss in their last game, the Baltimore Orioles are still having a successful road trip. Winning their third series in four tries this season would make the flight to California a lot more enjoyable.
Keeping red-hot A.J. Pierzynski in check would likely go a long way in helping the Orioles avoid a split of this four-game set with the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
Faced with nine consecutive road games after getting swept in three straight at home by the Yankees, Baltimore (7-5) responded by winning two of three in Toronto before taking the first two games of this series.
The Orioles were denied a third straight win Wednesday as Pierzynski hit a two-run homer - his team-best fourth - and Adam Dunn matched his season output with three RBIs in Chicago's 8-1 victory.
Dunn was jeered by the crowd when he swung and missed in the first inning for his 19th strikeout, dropping his average to .175. But the designated hitter walked and scored in the third, walked again in the fifth and delivered a three-run double in Chicago's four-run sixth.
"Early in the season, it can change so quick," Dunn said. "I've started off slow before and everything, but it's a lot different than it was last year because I feel good."
Also feeling good is Pierzynski, who has at least one RBI in seven consecutive games and leads the team with 13. He's batting .481 (13 for 27) with four homers during his seven-game hitting streak.
His recent production against the Orioles has been even better. In his last seven games versus Baltimore, Pierzynski is 17 for 28 (.607) with three homers, four doubles and 10 RBIs.
Jake Peavy stifled the Orioles for seven-plus innings Wednesday as the White Sox (6-5) held an opponent without a home run for the first time in nine games. Chicago pitchers surrendered six homers in the first two games of this series.
"Just a great team effort," Peavy said. "The boys swung the bats and we needed tonight after a few tough ones."
Peavy and three relievers combined to prevent Nolan Reimold from homering in his fifth straight game. The Orioles left fielder is batting .378 with eight RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak.
Baltimore, which closes the trip with three games against the Los Angeles Angels, had homered in 10 of its first 11 contests.
Jason Hammel (1-0, 2.08 ERA) will try to pitch the Orioles to a second straight series win. After taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his season debut, Hammel wasn't as sharp Saturday at Toronto before leaving without a decision in a 6-4 victory. He allowed two runs and six hits while needing 97 pitches to complete five innings.
Hammel pitched well against the White Sox on June 28 with Colorado, yielding two runs and six hits in seven innings of the Rockies' 13-inning win.
The White Sox counter with Gavin Floyd (1-1, 3.09), who pitched much better in his second start after a disappointing season debut.
He overcame control problems and limited Detroit to three hits over six scoreless innings of a 5-1 victory Saturday. The right-hander walked three and hit three batters but also struck out six and worked out of bases-loaded jams in the second and sixth innings.
Floyd is 1-2 with a 5.31 ERA in three home starts against the Orioles. He was tagged for six runs in six innings of a 6-4 loss at U.S. Cellular Field on May 1.
Updated April 19, 2012