By TODD KARPOVICH | Associated Press
BALTIMORE (AP) — Willson Contreras hit a pair of homers, Adrian Sampson pitched scoreless ball into the sixth inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 on Thursday.
Contreras had his 10th multi-homer game, which ranks second among Cubs catchers behind Gabby Hartnett (14).
“We played against a really good team," Contreras said. ”They're hot. They're in the wild card. They never give up."
Sampson (1-3) allowed four hits with six strikeouts and two walks over 5 2/3 innings, earning his first win since last Sept. 14 at Philadelphia.
“Wins will come no matter what,” Sampson said. “My job is to keep our guys in the game. Eventually, we will score some runs, which we did.”
Rafael Ortega also homered for the Cubs, who have won five of seven.
Brandon Hughes picked up his first career save by getting a double play on a soft liner by Cedric Mullins in the ninth.
The Orioles entered the day 1 1/2 games out of an AL wild-card spot. They now play a three-game series against division rival Boston, which concludes with Sunday's Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
“Tough time scoring runs the first two-thirds of the game," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. "Give Sampson credit. He threw the ball well. We just didn’t take too many good at-bats into the eighth inning. I thought Watkins was really good. He gave up just that solo home run to Contreras. We had a rally there in the eighth, and runners on base there in the ninth. Just couldn’t get it done.”
Thursday's game was a makeup of a rainout on June 8.
It was scoreless in the fifth when Baltimore's Austin Hays hit a one-out double and Rougned Odor had an infield single. Jorge Mateo attempted a squeeze bunt, but Sampson flipped the ball with his glove to catcher Contreras, who tagged out Hays before he could score. The Orioles challenged the play but it was upheld.
“It was a great play,” Contreras said. “It takes a good decision to make that play.”
Contreras then gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the sixth with a solo shot off Spenser Watkins (4-3).
Ortega and Contreras gave the Cubs some cushion with back-to-back homers in the eighth off Joey Krehbiel.
Watkins allowed one run and five hits with no walks and two strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.
Cubs reliever Sean Newcomb walked the first two batters in the eighth and was replaced by Erich Uelmen, who allowed an RBI single to Ryan Mountcastle that cut the lead to 3-1.
The Orioles pulled to within a run on a sacrifice fly by Anthony Santander.
Uelmen then got out of the jam. Third baseman Zach McKinstry threw out Mouncastle at home on a grounder by Ramon Urias, and Ryan McKenna struck out.
“That's a bang-bang play,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “The throw is really important, keeping your composure really in that moment, knowing where you're going.”
Cubs: OF Michael Hermosillo (quad) is starting a rehab assignment as the designated hitter in the Arizona Complex League. ... RHP Manny Rodriguez (elbow) allowed one and two hits with two strikeouts in one inning for Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday.
Orioles: Santander was the DH in an effort to keep him fresh and healthy.
Cubs: RHP Keegan Thompson (9-5, 3.67 ERA) will start the series opener Friday against Milwaukee and LHP Aaron Ashby (2-10, 4.24 ERA).
Orioles: RHP Jordan Lyles (9-9, 4.48) starts the opener against the Red Sox and RHP Kutter Crawford (3-4, 4.18) on Friday.
At just $12/year, your subscription not only helps us grow, it helps maintain our commitment to independent publishing.
Chicago Journal Newsletter
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.