BALTIMORE—Early in the eighth inning, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde decided that Félix Bautista needed to save Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox. Reliever Joey Krehbiel allowed two of his three batters to reach base, and Bautista made his entrance.
The ballpark lights dimmed, and Bautista prepared for a tough assignment. He began by striking out Luis Robert, threw a 103-mph wild pitch, then on a 2-2 count hit Eloy Jiménez with a pitch on the left elbow to load the bases.
Bautista struck out José Abreu to end the eighth and pitched a spotless ninth for his ninth save as the Orioles defeted the Chicago White Sox, 5-3, before an announced crowd of 12,954 at Camden Yards.
“It wasn’t what I had planned going into the game,” Hyde said about Bautista’s outing. It was his longest outing since he inherited the closer’s role when the Orioles traded Jorge López to the Minnesota Twins on August 2nd.
“The game called for it just the way Robert comes up with two runners on and we’re up two. That’s such a great middle of the order,” Hyde said. “I just want to put my best guy out there in that time.”
Bautista has six saves in six opportunities since López was traded.
“When I entered the game, I was put in a difficult position,” Bautista said through a translator. “The mentality remained the same when I got out there. Get the job done, whatever the team needs, I need to go out there and execute.
“I thought it wasn’t going to be easy from the get-go, especially with the heart of their lineup coming into the game, and that’s what I had to face, so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, so I had to go out there and fight.”
The Orioles are 64-58. It’s their fourth time at six games over .500. They began the game 2 ½ games behind in the wild-card race.
In late June, the Orioles took three of four over Chicago (62-61). In the final game of that series, they lost to Chicago starter Dylan Cease, who allowed one run on four hits and struck out a season-high 13 in seven innings.
Their second meeting with Cease (12-6) went better.
Jiménez hit a two-run home run, his seventh, against Oriole starter Austin Voth with one out in the first. In the bottom of the first, Cedric Mullins bunted for a base hit, Adley Rutschman walked, and Ryan Mountcastle hit his 18th home run to give the Orioles a 3-2 lead.
It was the 12th home run allowed by Cease.
Voth did not have a clean inning, and he allowed two baserunners in the third, fourth and fifth. In the fifth, Robert led off with a double, and Jiménez walked before Abreu popped to second, Yoan Moncada filed to left and Gavin Sheets flied to center.
Voth (4-1) got the first two outs of the sixth and was removed after 93 pitches, an Oriole high, after Seby Zavala singled. He allowed two runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
“That whole outing, I felt like I didn’t have good command of my fastball,” Voth said. “Searching for my curveball, had runners on every inning. Just to be able to get out some of those jams were huge.”
Bryan Baker’s only batter, AJ Pollock, grounded to Jorge Mateo at short, and he made a fancy flip to second baseman Terrin Vavra for the final out of the inning.
Mullins walked to lead off the sixth and moved to second on a wild pickoff throw by Cease. He scored on a single by Anthony Santander, the Orioles’ first hit since Mountcastle’s home run, for a 4-2 lead.
Cease allowed four runs, his most since May 24th, on three hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Dillon Tate allowed a leadoff double to Robert, who scored on a run-scoring single by Andrew Vaughn against Cionel Pérez, in the seventh.
The White Sox had 11 hits but were just 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 13 on base.
“There’s going to be ups-and-downs in a season,” Hyde said. “We’re not at our best in the bullpen. We’ve been really good for the majority of the year. I think our guys are going to bounce back. We’ve given up some runs. We were so good in the first half that it was hard to be perfect for six months.
“We have a lot of confidence in our guys and we’re going to continue to throw them out there and try to find the right combination to close games.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Austin Hays doubled with one out against Jake Diekman and scored on a single by Mateo to give the Orioles a 5-3 lead.
In the top of the eighth, Zavala doubled with one out against Krehbiel and, after AJ Pollock’s infield single, it was time for Bautista.
“He impresses every time he goes out there,” Voth said. “His is just unhittable now, and I would not want to be a hitter.”
Fans are enjoying Bautista’s entrance video with Omar’s whistle from “The Wire.”
“I love seeing the fans are really into the game when I come in,” Bautista said. “Whenever we do something really good, it definitely gets our adrenaline going and I think it helps me and helps our team as a whole when our fans get into the game and are there to support us and give us that energy.”
Notes: Spenser Watkins (4-3, 4.04) will face Lucas Giolito (9-7, 5.34) on Wednesday night. … Mateo stole his 28th base. … Mullins bunted for his eighth hit. His 22 bunt hits in the last three seasons lead the majors.
Minor league update: Chayce McDermott allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings in his Double-A debut as Bowie lost to Altoona, 7-5. McDermott (0-1), who was obtained from Houston in the trade for Trey Mancini, allowed six runs on five hits, walked four and struck out seven and allowed two home runs. Third baseman César Prieto and first baseman Toby Welk each drove in two runs.
Daniel Lloyd (3-3) pitched four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit as High-A Aberdeen beat Wilmington, 8-2. First baseman TT Bowens and leftfielder Dontá Williams each drove in three runs.
Rightfielder Dylan Beavers’ RBI singled capped a three-run 11th-inning rally that gave Single-A Delmarva an 8-7 win over Lynchburg.
Norfolk’s game at Jacksonville was suspended in the top of the fourth inning with the Tides leading 2-1. It will be resumed on Wednesday at 5:35 p.m. with a seven-inning game to follow. Jordan Westburg hit his 11th home run, and Gunnar Henderson started at second base.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB