Baseball / Sports

Cubs one-hit Orioles, earn three-game sweep

CHICAGO -- Despite giving Tsuyoshi Wada a two-year, $8.14 million contract prior to the 2012 season, the Orioles never saw whether the veteran Japanese left-hander could be a productive starter in the major leagues.

Wada brought an impressive resume from playing in Japan's Pacific League -- even though he wasn't nearly as hyped as other pitchers from the country -- but he never pitched in a regular season major league game for the Orioles. His 2012 season was ended by Tommy John elbow ligament reconstruction surgery, and he never managed to advance from Triple-A Norfolk last season.

But on Sunday afternoon, Wada held the Orioles hitless for the first six innings in a 2-1 loss as the Cubs completed a three-game sweep at Wrigley Field.

Considering how well the Orioles were playing before coming into Wrigley Field for their first trip here since 2008 -- they had just swept the Chicago White Sox in three games and had won nine of their last 10 series -- their inability to score runs this weekend is head-scratching.

The Orioles (73-55) managed just one hit Sunday and scored just four runs in the three-game series. Before Steve Pearce's home run broke up Wada's no-hit bid in the seventh, they went 13 consecutive innings without scoring a run since play resumed following a three-hour, nine-minute rain delay.

The day ended with the Orioles' first losing road trip of the season, ending their trip to Cleveland and Chicago with a 4-5 record. It was also the first time they've been swept since mid-May against the Detroit Tigers and the first time they've lost three straight games since dropping four in a row in Milwaukee and Houston on May 27-30.

The Orioles left Baltimore earlier this month with a seven-game lead over the New York Yankees in the American League East, an advantage that increased to a season-high nine games after their win against the White Sox on Wednesday. But now the club returns to Camden Yards for an 11-game homestand just six games up on New York.

Wada, who was signed to a minor league deal in the offseason and was making just his eighth major league start, set a career-high with eight strikeouts. He allowed just one base runner -- a first-inning walk to Adam Jones -- before Pearce hit his 14th homer of the season.

Wada, 33, would face just one more batter before being removed from the game after throwing 92 pitches, walking off the field to a standing ovation from the announced 32,774 that included a good number of Orioles fans.

Pearce has been one of the Orioles' most productive hitters over the past week. The home run was his third in his past seven games, and he is 10-for-29 (.345) with eight extra-base hits over that stretch.

Pearce turned on an 0-1, belt-high fastball, completely clearing the left-field stands and sending the ball onto Waveland Avenue.

Making his first start since being sent to the minor leagues two weeks ago, right-hander Miguel Gonzalez held the Cubs to two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings, marking the sixth time in his last seven major league starts that he has allowed two earned runs or fewer.

The game was scoreless until the fifth, when Cubs center fielder Arismendy Alcantara took a 2-1 pitch from Gonzalez just over the right-center field fence to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.

Anthony Rizzo then hit an RBI double down the left-field line with one out in the sixth inning, driving in Chris Coghlan, who opened the inning with a double off Gonzalez.

(c)2014 The Baltimore Sun

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