Orioles stay positive after rain-soaked defeat
Ubaldo solid in four innings following three-hour, nine-minute delay
CHICAGO -- Down by two runs, the Orioles waited out a three-hour, nine-minute rain delay on Saturday afternoon. But after a nasty storm swept through Chicago, the end result remained the same.
The first-place O's, riding high from a three-game sweep of the White Sox, haven't had such smooth sailing on the North Side. On Saturday, Baltimore didn't score a run in the seven innings after the delay, watching its American League East lead whittle down to seven games with a 7-2 loss to the Cubs and the Yankees' win.
"We are playing really good baseball. We are going to try to continue to do that. In a long season, you lose a couple in a row sometimes like this," catcher Nick Hundley said of an Orioles club that had won eight consecutive series prior to dropping two of its last three. "We've been playing great. We are not going to let this hiccup affect us more than it should."
The Orioles, who officially announced Saturday that Manny Machado is out for the season -- joining catcher Matt Wieters -- have lost two games in their lead over the second-place Yankees since Wednesday. But Baltimore still has a nice edge and is far from panic mode after the back-to-back losses at Wrigley Field.
"We're looking at the games we can control and those are the games that we play," O's starter Bud Norris, who went a rain-shortened two innings, said of his club's spot in the standings. "We're just trying to put more 'W's in the win column, and I think that's the No. 1 priority. We've got a lot of baseball left against our own division, and we're definitely not looking back, we're looking forward."
There wasn't much positive to reflect back on in Saturday's afternoon contest, which ended well into the evening and spanned more than six hours when the final out was recorded.
Norris, who drove in a run in the second inning, allowed four runs over a quick six outs and never got a chance to go deep. He got into trouble with a leadoff walk in the second, and a trio of singles tied the game at 1. He struck out No. 9 batter Kyle Hendricks and ran a full count to Chris Coghlan before the left fielder delivered a bases-clearing triple into right field. Coghlan, who was 0-for-15 with six strikeouts in his career against Norris heading into the at-bat, put the Cubs up, 4-2, before play was halted due to weather.
"There's no place to throw here to keep a guy warm, unlike other ballparks, so once a guy's out of there at the 20- or 30-minute mark, he's done for me," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of the decision to go with Ubaldo Jimenez when play resumed.
Jimenez, making his first relief outing since 2006, helped keep Showalter from overextending the 'pen and held the Cubs to one run over four innings with five strikeouts. Moved to relief earlier this week, the struggling Jimenez did a commendable job of giving the Orioles length and allowed just three hits and a walk over that span.
"When [Jimenez is] called on to go out there and try to do something he hasn't done a whole lot in the past, it's not going to be the easiest thing for him," Hundley said. "But he went out there and battled, competed and threw strikes. He's a professional. He's still working like crazy. He's not going to give up, he's very tough-minded, tough mentally. And for him to go out there and give us a chance to win was impressive."
The O's offense was not. Despite some good at-bats and a pair of early runs off starter Kyle Hendricks, the Orioles had no answer when the tarp was removed and mustered up just two hits the rest of the way.
Cubs right-hander Justin Grimm went 3 1/3 innings and allowed one baserunner -- Nelson Cruz's sixth-inning walk -- with Wesley Wright recorded the next five outs.
"It was huge," Hendricks said of the job done by the Cubs' relievers. "Words can't really describe how big it was. They won the game."
Orioles right-hander Tommy Hunter allowed one run in the seventh on a solo homer to Cubs phenom Javier Baez and another run in the eighth, as Chicago extended its lead to five and picked up its first series win in five tries.
"We've been in those shoes, too," Showalter said of the Cubs playing spoiler late in the year. "They're a good, solid, aggressive bunch and they're trying to establish themselves in their organization. ... They've got a lot of things to establish and prove, as we do."