CHICAGO -- Adam Jones' fifth home run of the season didn't tie the game or give the Orioles the lead as his previous four had. It was, however, the game-changer that assured Baltimore at least two-thirds of a successful road trip.
Jones went 2-for-4 with three RBIs -- including a two-run homer in the fifth -- as Baltimore escaped U.S. Cellular Field with a 5-3 win over the White Sox on Thursday.
The White Sox rallied in the bottom of the ninth against Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who, with two outs, allowed a single between a walk and hit batter to load the bases. Johnson escaped by striking out White Sox right fielder Alex Rios looking and gave the Baltimore its second straight series win.
"I wasn't trying to make it as dramatic as it was, but it's good to get three out of four here," said Johnson, who notched his sixth save. "We want to keep it going."
Thursday's victory moved the Orioles to 5-2 through two legs of their 10-game, three-city road trip. After taking two of three in Toronto and three of four in Chicago, they now travel to Anaheim to conclude their trip with a three-game series against the Angels.
"All we're trying to do is win series, it's not about anything else," Jones said. "We've been fortunate enough to win the last two series and now we've got to go to California and and do it all over again."
Right-hander Jason Hammel (2-0, 2.37 ERA) continued his impressive start to his Orioles career, tying a career high with 10 strikeouts [Orioles pitchers struck out 16 in the game]. He struggled in the first and third innings -- throwing 29 and 33 pitches, respectively -- but managed to get out of both jams and worked six innings.
"The first two innings I threw way too many pitches -- first three, I guess -- but way too many pitches early," Hammel said. "I've got to do a better job to get deep in the ballgame. Six innings is OK, but I want seven, eight innings."
The Orioles took control in the fifth, when second baseman Robert Andino led off with a triple and scored the tiebreaking run on J.J. Hardy's sacrifice fly. Jones added what proved to be much-needed insurance runs when, after White Sox starter Gavin Floyd (1-2, 4.58) hit Endy Chavez, the Orioles center fielder belted a two-run shot into the left-center-field seats.
"I mean, base open, hung probably one of the few breaking balls I did all day, and he hit it," Floyd said of the homer. "He's a good hitter. He's hot right now. Probably should have kept that in mind better."
Jones already had helped Baltimore get off to a quick start in the first. After Floyd walked Chavez and Nick Markakis singled, Jones knocked an RBI double to right. Markakis later scored on an infield groundout by Nick Johnson, giving the O's a 2-0 cushion.
That lead held until the third, when White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza led off with a double and scored on Adam Dunn's two-bagger. Consecutive singles by Paul Konerko and Rios scored Dunn to knot it up before a walk to Alexei Ramirez loaded the bases with one out.
Hammel managed to get out of the jam on his own, catching White Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo looking at strike three and then getting catcher Tyler Flowers to swing and miss for the frame's final out.
The third inning was the second time time Hammel escaped near danger. After opening the game with two quick outs, a walk, single and a strikeout that got away from catcher Ronny Paulino loaded the bases before Hammel induced an inning-ending grounder from Ramirez.
"There would be a lot of things to dissect in a ballgame like that, but you'll always go back to the guy who pitched six innings and pitched well," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I thought he had a little tick above crispness and stuff that he's had in any outing."
The Orioles' bullpen was able to keep the victory intact for Hammel, as three relievers combined to hold the White Sox to one run on two hits the rest of the way.
"We're a team and we're together," said Pedro Strop, who allowed the lone run in the eighth. "I'm so happy that each guy that we have in the bullpen, they trust the other guy can do the job."
The Orioles now head west to conclude the season's first road trip as they get their first look at the revamped Angels. Although Baltimore will miss newcomer C.J. Wilson, the Orioles face right-handers Jered Weaver (2-0, 2.18) and Dan Haren (0-1, 4.76) in the final two games after opening against No. 5 starter Jerome Williams.
"We just got to go win tomorrow and not really worry about the whole entire weekend," Jones said. "We got to win tomorrow and that's what's most important. It's not about the whole series, it's about tomorrow."