Guthrie hurls three-hit gem, defeats Sox
Ace goes eight strong innings, wins with help of O's big fifth
CHICAGO -- The viral infection that attacked Jeremy Guthrie's muscles and left him feeling fatigued is gone. It forced him to leave one start early and miss another just before the All-Star break, but there were no visible symptoms on Sunday afternoon in Chicago.
The Orioles right-hander hasn't lifted weights in 10 days, and has only gone running twice in the past 11 days. Still, Guthrie was strong enough to last eight innings in a 10-2 victory over the White Sox that avoided a series sweep.
Guthrie (7-8) faced 27 batters at U.S. Cellular Field and allowed two runs on three hits. He struck out five and walked just one.
"Overall, today was probably the best movement I've had on my fastball all season," Guthrie said. "I felt like I was able to maneuver that pitch around the strike zone. When you have confidence in your pitches, it's easier to throw first-pitch strikes.
"The last two days I felt really good with the ball in my hand and that's something I've been searching for more consistently this season."
While Guthrie was in control, White Sox starter Jose Contreras struggled with his command. A Contreras wild pitch scored the game's first run and the Orioles (41-50) broke through with a five-run fifth inning.
"You can tell right away that the majority of the guys in the lineup were waiting [Contreras] out because he can be awfully tough," Orioles catcher Gregg Zaun said. "If you go out there and you get too aggressive, he'll eat you up with that sinker and the split from the left side."
Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Melvin Mora. With his second pitch to Mora, Contreras uncorked another wild pitch, scoring Adam Jones. By the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Contreras had hit Mora, leaving a bases-loaded jam for Aaron Poreda.
The 22-year-old rookie lasted just 10 pitches. The lefty walked Luke Scott and Nolan Reimold, forcing in two more runs. The Orioles added two more runs by actually swinging the bat against White Sox reliever D.J. Carrasco.
Zaun stroked an RBI single to left and then made a smart baserunning move. Cesar Izturis bounced into an inning-ending double play -- but not before Zaun stopped in his tracks to let another run cross the plate.
"There's two ways to do that. You either stop and make them chase you back or you run them over," said Zaun, who added a three-run homer in the ninth inning. "It's one of those things that they teach you [at a young age] -- you don't run into double plays like that."
Meanwhile Guthrie's fastball was popping, which set up his sliders and changeups against the White Sox (47-44). Guthrie threw 108 pitches, 69 for strikes and he may have made only two mistakes all game.
Guthrie came into the game second in the American League in home runs allowed (20), and he gave up two more, but those shots came without men on base. Guthrie had retired the first seven batters he faced before Dewayne Wise deposited a 1-1 changeup into the right-field seats. It was Wise's first home run of the season, and his first in 125 at-bats.
Chris Getz later hit the second home run of his career, but Guthrie limited the heart of Chicago's order -- Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome and Paul Konerko -- to one line-drive single.
"He's got a look of confidence," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said of Guthrie. "I think the rest was good for him. He's had a chance to regroup. [We] need quality starts out of him and he's capable of reeling them off."
Trembley said he thought he saw something different in Guthrie's eyes heading into the season's second half.
"I think he saw lower blood enzyme levels," Guthrie said. "If that translates into a more focused and determined Jeremy, then it is. But, no, I'm not any more determined to pitch well than I was three [or] five days ago. I promise you -- I want to win just as bad today as I did six days ago or seven days ago."
Patrick Mooney is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.