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Mullins' career-high 4 hits leads O's to win

Jones and Villar slug homers in final 2018 meeting with White Sox
September 16, 2018

BALTIMORE -- Adam Jones and Jonathan Villar each homered and the Orioles used a five-run first inning -- and a career-high four hits from Cedric Mullins -- to hang on for Sunday's 8-4 win over the White Sox.The victory, just the Orioles second in their last 10 games, keeps them

BALTIMORE -- Adam Jones and Jonathan Villar each homered and the Orioles used a five-run first inning -- and a career-high four hits from Cedric Mullins -- to hang on for Sunday's 8-4 win over the White Sox.
The victory, just the Orioles second in their last 10 games, keeps them one loss ahead of the worst record in franchise history (54-107 in 1988) and finally showcased something from a woeful offense.
"There were a lot of good things in the first inning ... I can go through about six," manager Buck Showalter said of the O's, who improved to 26-48 at home. "Actually, as much as we've kind of beat up a little bit on some things that we've got to get better at, I'm thinking about taking that first inning and kind of going through [and saying], 'Here's the little things we did to make that be a big inning.' We had it stand up."
After being shut out in Saturday's game, Baltimore -- which had 11 hits on the day -- put forth the biggest first inning it has had all season in the opening frame. The O's scored two runs off Sox starter Lucas Giolito before recording an out, and DJ Stewart notched his first career RBI on a fielder's choice to make it 3-0. Jones then scored on Matt Davidson's error and Breyvic Valera's sacrifice fly made it 5-0 in a 26-pitch frame.
Giolito went six innings, holding the O's to just one run the rest of the way -- Villar's fourth-inning homer onto Eutaw Street. It marked Villar's second blast onto the famed right-field-flag-court area and marked his eighth overall since joining the team last month.

"We both have aggressive styles," Mullins said of Villar and himself setting the offense up for a big afternoon. "He's kind of guiding me in terms of continuing to learn, trying to steal bases and bunting the ball in general. There's a lot I can learn from him, and to be able to have that dynamic at the top of the order, I feel like it'll be huge."
Orioles starter David Hess -- taking Alex Cobb's spot as he deals with a blister -- cruised until the fifth inning, allowing only Daniel Palka's second-inning solo homer. But a pair of homers, by Yolmer Sanchez and Palka, put three more runs across the plate and ended the right-hander's day at 4 2/3 innings.
"The biggest thing that's going to stick with me and just kind of linger is shut-down innings," said Hess, who allowed the White Sox to answer twice after the O's offense kicked in. "That's something that's real important and something I take a lot of pride in. That was non-existent today, that was when the runs were scored. So when the guys go out there and put up runs for you as a pitcher you want to go and shut it down and show that you have their back, and I wasn't able to do that."

The offense made up for it, answering Chicago's three-run fifth with Jones' homer in the seventh off Jose Ruiz. Mullins -- who went 4-for-5 with a double and run scored -- also singled in Jace Peterson on his fourth hit of the day in the eighth.
"It's a day to day process," Mullins said of adjusting to the big leagues since he was promoted last month. "I come in, take a look at the pitcher, see what he has. More than likely it's a guy I haven't seen before. It's just a matter of sticking with my approach and trusting myself and putting good wood on the ball."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Jones' insurance run: Starting for just the fifth time since September 5, the veteran hit a no-doubter in the seventh inning for his 15th homer this season. Jones has seen limited playing time this month as the O's try to see some of their new players, a move that's been met with mixed results. The 33-year-old, who used his 10-and-5 rights to refuse a trade earlier this year, is a free agent at the end of the season.

SISCO EXITS
Rookie backstop Chance Sisco took a foul tip off of his mask in the top of the fourth inning and exited with a chin laceration shortly after that in favor of fellow rookie Austin Wynns.
"He's in concussion protocol right now. He's had some headaches, as would be expected, so we're going to err on the side of caution," Showalter said of Sisco. "Think he's going to be fine. It's just, opened it up pretty good. Was scary. A lot of blood there. By the time I got there his mask already had a lot of blood on it."

SOUND SMART
The Orioles struck out 14 batters, matching a season high.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Mullins didn't just have a great day at the plate. The rookie center fielder made a terrific diving grab on the run in deep center field to rob Welington Castillo and end the top of the seventh inning.
"Cedric had one of those days, not that everyone's been expecting. He's already shown some glimpses of it. Some of that fearlessness," Showalter said. "There's a lot being thrown at him."
HE SAID IT
"Yeah, those guys are kickstarters. You look at the way they play, they play hard, they bring a speed element to the table. Both of them are similar in that they get on base but they can also drive the balls in the gap and over the fence. Having guys like that in the top of the order and on defense for you, it's fun. It's a lot of fun." -- Hess, on Villar and Mullins being at the center of the offense
UP NEXT
The O's will host the Blue Jays for a three-game series to wrap up the homestand beginning Monday. Baltimore will pitch a bullpen game with Andrew Cashner still dealing with a left knee issue. Toronto will send lefty Ryan Borucki to the mound for the 7:05 p.m. ET start.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.