BALTIMORE -- Jose Quintana made a great first impression on the Cubs, who did their best to welcome him. Kristopher Bryant and Anthony Rizzo each belted two-run homers and rookie Ian Happ smacked a two-run double to back Quintana in his debut, an 8-0 Interleague victory on Sunday over the Orioles at Camden Yards.
"This one is special for me because it's the first one with the Cubs," said Quintana, who received a celebratory cold-water shower by his new teammates after the game. "I just want to help this team."
Acquired from the White Sox on Thursday for four Minor Leaguers, including the Cubs' No. 1 prospect, Eloy Jimenez, Quintana didn't disappoint. The lefty retired the first nine batters he faced and scattered three hits over seven innings while striking out 12, one shy of his career high.
• Quintana leaves Cubs thrilled after 1st start
"He could really be a big boon to us," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We grab a lead, and he pitched really well with the lead. There's no messing around, there's no walks, there's no bad counts. He made them put the ball in play, and he's punching guys out. He was burying the curve and elevating the fastball. He was doing everything well."
How rare was it for Quintana to get some runs? He got four or more runs when he was in the game in six of his 18 starts with the White Sox this season. Since 2012, he leads the Major Leagues with 65 no-decisions.
The Cubs, trying to catch the Brewers in the National League Central, had scored 19 runs in the first two games of this series and jumped on Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez in a four-run second. Jimenez was pulled after serving up 11 hits over 3 2/3 innings. It was a rough series for the Orioles' starters, who gave up 21 runs over 11 1/3 innings.
"I'll tell you, his first inning, that was about as good of stuff he's had maybe since he's been here," Orioles' manager Buck Showalter said of Jimenez. "But his command deserted him the second inning, and balls he was trying to throw in were center cut, and balls he's trying to throw away come back over the plate. It's a good team. They're not going to let you get away with those mistakes."
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Rizzo's blast, his 22nd of the season, came with a man on in the ninth. With the win, the Cubs swept the series and won three in a row on the road for the first time this season.
What did Maddon like about the Cubs' play?
"Energy," Maddon said. "The most impressive part has been the energy. I really believe if we play with that kind of internal fire and energy, we'll win a lot of games in the second half. It's how we feel about ourselves."
The Cubs' players noticed a difference.
"We are back," catcher Willson Contreras said. "We're back to where we were last year."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Catching on: Contreras has been hot since moving into the clean-up spot and went 4-for-5 on Sunday, setting a career high in hits. Contreras, Kyle Schwarber and Happ hit consecutive doubles to open the second, and Contreras and Schwarber scored on Happ's drive. Jason Heyward followed with an RBI single and then scored two outs later on Benjamin Zobrist's RBI single for a 4-0 lead. Jimenez threw 30 pitches that inning. Contreras is 18-for-42 (.429) with three homers in his last 11 games.
The key? It could be rookie catcher Victor Caratini's bats. Contreras has been using them since the All-Star break, and he's 8-for-14.
"I have to thank Victor," Contreras said. "He gave me bats, and I'm hitting with his bats and I'm hot. Thanks, Victor. He's a great guy. I love Victor." More >
Join the party: In the first two games of the series, the Cubs scored 19 runs, but none by Bryant. That changed in the fourth. Jonathan Jay singled to open the inning and reached third on Zobrist's squibbler that catcher Welington Castillo fielded. Bryant then launched a 1-0 pitch into the left-field seats for his 19th homer and a 6-0 lead. According to Statcast™, it was the hardest-hit home run of Bryant's career, with an exit velocity of 113 mph.
"I think our offense came alive here," Bryant said.
"We have starting pitchers who have a better track record than they've had. It's been very sporadic. We haven't been pitching well. The bullpen has done a really good job keeping it in order, but it's hard to keep it in order with the short starts we're having. It took a lot of imagination to get through this game, especially with a short turnaround." -- Showalter
"It's not just me, but I think everyone needed it, the rest was needed. Everybody looks focused, everybody looks like they have a plan, and an approach. We're not wasting time, we're attacking pitches." -- Contreras, on the benefit of the All-Star break
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With the win, the Cubs posted their first sweep of an American League East team since taking three against the Red Sox from June 30-July 2, 2014.
The 12 strikeouts by Quintana tied a franchise record for the most in a Cubs debut, set by Matt Garza on April 3, 2011, against the Pirates.
Cubs:Jonathan Lester will make his first start of the second half on Monday when the Cubs get their first look at the Braves' new stadium, SunTrust Park. It will be Lester's 20th start of the season. He is 4-2 with a 2.14 ERA in seven career starts against the Braves. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. CT.
Orioles:Chris Tillman gets the call when the Orioles open up a four-game series with the Rangers at Camden Yards on Monday in his first start since June 30 after skipping his last outing for the birth of his daughter. The righty had one of his best starts his last time out, giving up fewer than three runs for just the second time this season. Tillman is 1-5 on the year with a 7.90 ERA. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. ET.
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