CHICAGO (AP) — Zach Britton stayed in the game after developing a leg cramp. He kept right on going through another difficult sixth inning.
It was quite the encouraging outing for the left-hander. It just wasn’t enough to get the Baltimore Orioles a win.
Britton had one of his best games of the season, but Tommy Hunter surrendered a one-out homer to Adam Dunn in the ninth inning that sent the Orioles to a 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
Baltimore had won five of six and missed a chance to go a season-best 12 games above .500.
Britton allowed two runs and six hits in a season-high seven innings, keeping the Orioles in the game while they struggled to score against Jose Quintana. Britton is 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA in four starts since he was promoted from the minors last month.
Dunn and Alex Rios each had an RBI single in the sixth for the White Sox, continuing a trend for Britton. He had allowed seven earned runs and a .643 batting average in the sixth inning before Thursday’s game.
“That was kind of my hurdle. To get over it I feel like I gave a nice little sigh of relief,” Britton said. “I would have kind of liked to right the ship earlier without giving up any runs.”
With two outs in the fourth, Orioles manager Buck Showalter and trainer Richie Bancell went to check on Britton, who was hampered a leg cramp he said was caused by getting stuck on the mound. Britton then got Jeff Keppinger to ground to second to end the inning.
“He gave us a real good chance to win today. I was proud of Zach,” Showalter said. “He pitched aggressively. Some pitchers will get in the dugout and it doesn’t look like they’re going to score many runs. He kept firing.”
Britton got a no-decision when Baltimore rallied against Nate Jones in the eighth. Brian Roberts scampered home when pinch hitter Matt Wieters reached on an error by first baseman Dunn, and Nick Markakis delivered a tying sacrifice fly.
The rally also handed Quintana his seventh consecutive no-decision after the lefty allowed two hits in seven innings. He retired his last 13 batters and struck out a career-high 11.
“Quintana was tough. I mean, that was solid,” Showalter said. “I can see why they’re so high on him. He’s been pitching well for them. They’ve got a lot of good young pitchers but Zach matched him for the most part.”
Hunter was on a roll for the Orioles. He was 3-0 with a 1.49 ERA in his previous 30 appearances.
But Dunn drove a 3-2 curveball into the bleachers in left field for his 23rd homer, handing Baltimore a series loss after it swept three games from the Yankees.
“He hit a home run,” Hunter said. “Hit a pitch you don’t want to throw to him. I would like to bury it. There were a couple righties coming up right after him.”
Addison Reed (4-1) pitched a scoreless ninth for Chicago, which avoided falling a season-high 16 games below .500. The White Sox also won a home series for the first time since sweeping a three-game set from the Marlins from May 24-26.
And despite the struggles for the White Sox, Dunn isn’t looking past the rest of this season.
“I’m not writing this year off. I don’t know what everybody else is saying or thinking but I’m not writing this year off yet,” Dunn said. “I mean, we’re capable of rattling off some significant wins in a row. Hopefully this is the start of something good.”
NOTES: Baltimore signed South Korean LHP Jung-Hyun Yoon. He is slated to report to the Orioles’ spring training complex in Florida to be evaluated for assignment within their system. … The walk for Baltimore CF Adam Jones in the first inning was his first since May 18 against Tampa Bay, with the 43-game span the longest current drought in baseball. … The starting time for the White Sox-Orioles game on Sept. 7 in Baltimore has been moved to 1:05 p.m. from 7:05 p.m. … White Sox manager Robin Ventura said RHP Jake Peavy will throw Friday. Ventura said he doesn’t expect Peavy to return from his broken rib until after the All-Star break. … The White Sox announced after the game they had optioned OF Jordan Danks to Triple-A Charlotte. They will make a corresponding move before Friday’s game in Tampa Bay. … Baltimore RHP Miguel Gonzalez (6-3, 3.77 ERA) starts Friday night at New York against the Yankees’ Ivan Nova (2-2, 4.63 ERA). … The White Sox play at Tampa Bay on Friday night, with Dylan Axelrod (3-4, 4.57 ERA) facing Tampa Bay’s Jeremy Hellickson (7-3, 4.90 ERA).
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)