• Baseball

Shintaro Fujinami, Two Runs in the Ninth; Orioles to 9-3 Victory over White Sox

AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Shintaro Fujinami throws to the Chicago White Sox during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, in Baltimore. The Orioles won 9-3.

BALTIMORE (AP) — Anthony Santander hit a go-ahead three-run double in the seventh inning, and the AL-best Baltimore Orioles defeated the Chicago White Sox 9-3 on Tuesday night to match their victory total from last season.

Baltimore (83-49), which has won nine of 11, remained 2 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay in the AL East. The Orioles went 83-79 in 2022, their first winning season since 2016.

“We still have a whole month left and we’ve already been able to get to where we were last year, which was a really big turnaround for us,” left fielder Austin Hays said. “It’s a great accomplishment for us, but we know we’re not done and there’s a lot of baseball left.”

Lenyn Sosa hit his third homer in five games for Chicago (52-81), which has lost 12 of 17.

The Orioles took the lead with a two-out rally in the seventh against Aaron Bummer (4-3). Pinch-hitter Ryan McKenna singled and stole second, and Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson followed with walks.

Santander then poked an opposite-field shot past first that rattled into the right-field corner. By the time Oscar Colás collected it and threw to the infield, three runners had scored and the Orioles were up 4-1.

Santander drove in four runs and has a team-high 77 RBIs.

“He’s just super consistent,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s good ABs every night, from both sides of the plate. He drives in huge runs for us. When he’s in right field, he plays his tail off. He’s just really become a professional player in every aspect.”

Hays helped preserve the lead when he crashed into the big wall in left field and caught a deep drive by Luis Robert Jr. to end the eighth.

“You get a chance to catch balls that are normally homers in other ballparks,” Hays said of Camden Yards’ left-field dimensions. “I imagine the one that Robert hit was probably (a homer in) 29 out of 30.”

Then, in the bottom half, Baltimore scored five runs against Bryan Shaw to turn it into a rout. The Orioles also scored five in the eighth of the series opener to win 9-0.

Baltimore starter Dean Kremer encountered little difficulty over the first six innings besides Sosa’s one-out homer to center in the third. He was lifted after yielding back-to-back singles to begin the seventh, but Danny Coulombe (4-1) retired the next three White Sox to end the threat.

Kremer allowed six hits and a run and struck out five in six-plus innings.

Chicago rookie Jesse Scholtens retired the first nine Orioles, then stranded two men in the fourth inning. Baltimore stitched together three singles in a four-batter span in the fifth, with Adam Frazier’s base hit to right scoring Hays.

Scholtens allowed a run and six hits in 5 1/3 innings while striking out one.

Chicago scored twice in the ninth against Shintaro Fujinami and had two on with one out. But Korey Lee flied out to center, and Sosa was caught far off first and doubled up to end the game.

“He thought that ball was going to land but, again, I think (first base coach Daryl Boston) has already instructed him we are going base to base here,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “I think he thought that ball was going to fall in front of the center fielder.”