Mateo's tape-measure home run keys Orioles' 8-6 win in Chicago (updated)

CHICAGO – One of the starting pitchers was back in Baltimore having his left elbow examined. Multiple relievers were unavailable following a couple of rain delays and a suspended game in St. Louis, which necessitated the arrival of Jonathan Heasley in a potential bulk role.

The Orioles had lost three in a row and seen much better days when they arrived in Chicago to begin their series against the White Sox, and that was before Grayson Rodriguez threw 30 pitches in the first inning.

They fell behind twice tonight to the team with the worst record in baseball. The team that’s scored the fewest runs. But they snapped out of their funk in the fourth inning.

Finally, they could feel good again. They were due for it.

They just had to sweat a little in the ninth.

Anthony Santander’s eighth home run tied the score, and Jorge Mateo delivered the biggest blow with a 434-foot shot to left-center field, the longest of his career, to lead the Orioles to an 8-6 victory before an announced crowd of 15,843 at chilly Guaranteed Rate Field.

Rodriguez walked a career-high five batters but grinded through the fifth, Ryan Mountcastle produced his first four-hit game since Aug. 3, 2023, and the Orioles improved their record to 30-18. They remain three behind the first-place Yankees, who won again today.

A new sweepless streak was born.

Rodriguez allowed two runs and three hits and struck out seven. He was done after 94 pitches.

The White Sox weren't quite finished.

Danny Coulombe struck out the side in the sixth and Jacob Webb stranded Tommy Pham after a leadoff double in the seventh. Heasley retired the side in order in the eighth with the Orioles ahead 8-2 but surrendered a run in the ninth and loaded the bases with no outs, forcing manager Brandon Hyde to use Yennier Cano.

Cano hit Andrew Vaughn with an 0-2 pitch to bring in a run and Gavin Sheets singled to cut the lead to 8-6. Pinch-hitter Zach DeLoach struck out and Hyde brought in Craig Kimbrel, who notched his 10th save and the 427th of his career.

"You'd expect with a six-run lead that you could try to finish it there without using a couple guys and having three guys up that inning," Hyde said. "I'm glad we won the game."

Andrew Benintendi popped up, with Gunnar Henderson making the catch after bumping into Vaughn at second base and going around him. Umpires ruled interference and a double play, infuriating manager Pedro Grifol.

Ozzie Guillen blasted the call on the White Sox postgame show, saying, "Umpires should be embarrassed right now. They should be ashamed of themselves."

The Orioles were much calmer, but also perplexed.

"I didn't really know what was going on," Mountcastle said. "I saw Gunnar run into him a little bit, but I didn't know he'd be out, too, but I guess that's the rule."

"It had been a while since I saw something like that and, honestly, it was a little surprising, but I'm glad that was the call at the end of the day," Mateo said via interpreter Brandon Quinones.

Asked about the explanation given to him and whether he ever saw a game end in this fashion, Hyde said, "I have not and I haven't gotten an explanation. I saw the umpire point to the runner with an interference call, but with the infield fly I think there was a lot of confusion about it. But we escaped there."

Crew chief Adrian Johnson told a pool reporter that "the ball was hit and infield fly was ruled on the play. (Third base umpire] Junior (Valentine) came in with interference on Andrew Vaughn, the runner on second base. Actually, the shortstop made contact with him, so with the interference, that's an out. And you still have the infield fly, and that's an out, also."

Valentine explained that there doesn't actually have to be contact.

"If he hinders the fielder in the attempt to field a batted ball, intent is not required and it's interference," he said.

"If you see the interference, you call it."

The Orioles scored three runs or fewer 11 times in their last 20 games. Mateo shoved them past that mark with one swing, on Mike Clevinger’s cutter that hung over the plate.

Mateo took a few steps toward first base and raised his arm in celebration. The Orioles led 5-2, and they weren’t going to stumble again.

"He's playing so well," Hyde said. "In most of his starts he's contributing at least a run a game just by himself by either getting a hit and stealing two bases or a walk and making things happen. Tonight he hits a big homer."

The inning began with Santander launching a sinker to right. Clevinger retired the next two batters, but Mountcastle reached on an infield hit, Cedric Mullins grounded a single into right and Mateo unloaded at 108.6 mph for his first home run since May 4.

Mateo spoke with Santander after the outfielder's home run, checking the iPad before his at-bat.

"We were talking about how his heater was sinking a little bit today," Mateo said. "It wasn't going as straight as usual, so I was trying to sit on that sinker a little bit."

The White Sox collected two hits in the first inning, one more than Rodriguez surrendered over six innings in his last start against the Mariners. Sheets filled the bases with one out, Paul DeJong struck out on a sinker and Benintendi walked with the count full for a 1-0 lead.

A two-out walk and hit batter in the third were followed by Benintendi’s single that broke a 1-1 tie. Rodriguez had retired the side in order in the second on 12 pitches, striking out two, and got a ground ball and popup to begin the third.

"Just really a lack of fastball command," Hyde said. "Unfortunately, only go five innings there. The walks, hit by pitch, for me a lot of spray and arm-side misses."

"Obviously, that (fastball command) was nowhere near where I want it to be," Rodriguez said. "That was atrocious."

Mountcastle, batting seventh for the only time this season, led off the third inning with a single. He was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder, but Mullins stole second and third base to give him 103 in his career and tie Corey Patterson’ for eighth on the club’s all-time list. Mateo walked and swiped second and Henderson walked to load the bases.  

Adley Rutschman followed with a game-tying single on a fly ball to right field that deflected off Pham’s glove as he raced back for it. The runners had to hold momentarily, which allowed only Mullins to score, and Ryan O’Hearn grounded into a double play.

Mountcastle doubled off left-hander Jared Shuster in the sixth, Mateo walked with two outs and stole second base, Henderson walked and Rutschman delivered a two-run single. Austin Hays pinch-hit for O’Hearn and singled for an 8-2 lead.

At that point. 12 of the 16 runs on the road trip were scored by the bottom third of the order.

Mountcastle singled in the seventh. He was 2-for-25 since his three-hit game on May 11.

"Love the way he's going to the opposite field, too, staying on the baseball real well," Hyde said. "We need Mounty to be an impact part of our offense."

"The last couple days have been good," Mountcastle said. "Made a couple adjustments, I did some early hitting, stuff like that. Felt pretty good.

"Just getting better pitches to hit and trying to stay more patient and just doing a lot of work."

Maybe batting seventh was the key.

"You get to see how they're throwing and what pitches they're working with for the first six guys, and a little bit more of an in-game scouting report," Mountcastle said. "I don't know. I don't want to hit seventh, but if I've got to do that, it's awesome. Whatever I can do to help the team."

Hays doubled in the eighth for his first two-hit game of the season.

"We swung the bat really well," Hyde said. "A lot of guys who have been scuffling a little bit put some really good swings on the baseball tonight. I'd love to see us tack on a little bit more, but I thought our offense was really good tonight."

The Orioles are waiting for more information on John Means’ sore left elbow, which was examined earlier today in Baltimore. They needed some good news tonight.

"Definitely a big relief," Mountcastle said. "Hopefully we can keep it going."

* Heston Kjerstad hit his 13th home run today with Triple-A Norfolk, and Jackson Holliday hit his fifth in a 6-3 win in Worcester. Daniel Johnson hit his ninth.

Kjerstad came within a triple of the cycle. Johnson and Billy Cook also had three hits.

Garrett Stallings allowed one earned run and two total in four innings, with four walks and four strikeouts. Trey McGough, promoted to Norfolk yesterday, allowed one run and one hit with four strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings. Jamie Westbrook hit a home run.

Bryan Baker notched his third save with a scoreless ninth.

Double-A Bowie was no-hit until the seventh inning, when TT Bowens doubled to score Max Wagner with the tying run.

Seth Johnson allowed one run and two hits with six strikeouts over five innings. Reliever Carlos Tavera was removed from the game with a right ankle injury.

High-A Aberdeen’s Preston Johnson tossed 3 2/3 scoreless and hitless innings in relief. Starter Levi Wells tossed four scoreless innings with three hits and five strikeouts.

Matthew Etzel belted his fourth home run. Enrique Bradfield Jr. had two hits and scored twice.

Single-A Delmarva’s Stiven Acevedo hit his third homer and went 3-for-4 with four RBIs.

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