(Sports Network) - The Baltimore Orioles passed their first test under new manager Buck Showalter with flying colors. Their next challenge figures to be a little bit tougher, however, with the American League Central-leading Chicago White Sox invading Camden Yards for a four-game series that begins this evening.
The Orioles excelled in their first series with Showalter at the helm, taking all three meetings with the fading Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to start a current seven-game homestand off on a very positive note. The club showed some resolve as well in Thursday's finale, bouncing back from squandering a four- run lead to claim a 5-4 victory on Cesar Izturis' one-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning.
After the Angels scored four times in the top of the eighth inning to erase a 4-0 deficit, Baltimore's Matt Wieters smacked a leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth and pinch-runner Julio Lugo advanced on a sacrifice bunt before Izturis singled up the middle to knock in the winning run and give the Orioles their first sweep of Anaheim since July 17-20, 2003.
"I think [Showalter] really sparked those guys," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. "We just couldn't come through. They just seemed like they wanted it more."
Nick Markakis added a solo homer and drove in two runs for Baltimore, while rookie Jake Arrieta turned in 7 2/3 strong innings despite not factoring in the final outcome. The young right-hander retired the first 14 batters he faced and took a shutout into the eighth inning before being charged with a pair of runs allowed.
Jason Berken (3-2) claimed the win after recording the final out of the top of the eighth and following up with a scoreless ninth.
Now the Orioles will attempt to maintain their newfound momentum when they take on a formidable Chicago squad that comes in having won nine of its last 11 contests and owns a 1 1/2-game lead over second-place Minnesota in the AL Central standings.
The White Sox won three of four matchups in Detroit in their most recent set and garnered a series win with a 6-4, 11-inning decision on Thursday. Chicago overcame another shaky showing from closer Bobby Jenks, who surrendered a game-tying three-run homer to the Tigers' Ryan Raburn in the bottom of the ninth that raised his earned run average to 10.57 since the All-Star break.
Chicago went back in front on Mark Kotsay's two-run triple in the top of the 11th, and Sergio Santos threw two scoreless innings in relief of Jenks to earn his first major league win.
Kotsay, who's batting just .223 on the season, had a two-run homer earlier in the game and finished 3-for-5 for the White Sox, while Juan Pierre added an RBI single as part of a two-hit afternoon.
"It's not easy," said Kotsay of his slump. "Anytime you struggle you get to see the true character of somebody, and hopefully in this locker room these guys know the amount of effort, the amount of work I put in just to help this ball club and [Thursday] it's all good."
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen will be seeking a similar performance out of tonight's starter John Danks, the team's leader with 11 victories thus far in 2010. The usually-steady left-hander wasn't at his best last time out, however, allowing five runs in 6 2/3 innings to take a loss against Oakland this past Saturday.
Prior to that defeat, Danks had won four straight starts and yielded one run or less in three of those games. The 25-year-old has posted a solid 3.40 ERA for the season and has limited the opposition to a .221 average at the plate.
Danks also owns a 4-2 record with a 4.11 ERA in six lifetime encounters with Baltimore and beat the Orioles three times last season, including an April 22, 2009 showdown at Camden Yards in which he delivered seven innings of one-run ball.
Brad Bergesen gets the call for Baltimore in the opener and takes another stab at ending a winless streak that's gone on for more than 2 1/2 months now. The sophomore right-hander is 0-7 with a 7.26 ERA in 11 starts since a May 12 verdict over Seattle, with the Orioles prevailing as a team in only one of those tilts.
Bergesen did pitch well enough to win in his most recent assignment, however, working seven innings and giving up just two runs on five hits Saturday at Kansas City. He left with a 3-2 lead, but ended up with a no-decision after the Royals scored twice against the Baltimore bullpen in the eighth.
The 24-year-old went 1-1 in a pair of starts against the White Sox during a seven-win rookie campaign in 2009, with the victory taking place at Camden Yards in his major league debut. Bergesen permitted three runs -- one earned -- and just four hits over 5 2/3 innings in that April 21, 2009 clash.
The Orioles won five of nine overall meetings with the White Sox last season, including two of three tests held in Baltimore.