Keeper by the dozen: 12-single attack, Giolito’s strong start, Moncada’s defense help White Sox topple Orioles

Gavin Sheets drove in three runs as the Sox stayed four games behind the Guardians in the AL Central.

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Lucas Giolito pitched 6 1⁄3 innings of one-run ball.

The White Sox’ Lucas Giolito pitched 6 1⁄3 innings of one-run ball against the Orioles on Wednesday.

Julio Cortez/AP

BALTIMORE — An excellent start by Lucas Giolito. A three-RBI homecoming game for Gavin Sheets. And a bail-out double play with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning by third baseman Yoan Moncada on a night he went 0-for-5 and left two runners on base.

As usual, there were no home runs and a lot of singles (12), as well as 14 runners left on base. But there was enough to lift the White Sox to a needed 5-3 victory Wednesday against the Orioles that kept them four games behind the American League Central-leading Guardians and moved them into a tie for second place with the Twins.

‘‘We played with a good level of energy,’’ said Giolito, who allowed one run in 613 innings. ‘‘Everyone was kind of playing for each other, pulling from the same rope. The offense and defense kept the momentum on our side.’’

Four singles and a wild pitch in the eighth produced two insurance runs for a 5-1 lead that became vital after closer Liam Hendriks gave up a two-run home run to Austin Hays in the ninth. Those tack-on runs came after Moncada made a backhand stop, stepped on third, spun and threw across the diamond to first baseman Andrew Vaughn for a double play to end the seventh.

‘‘The play by Moncada was the highlight,’’ manager Tony La Russa said.

The Sox gave Giolito a 2-0 lead in the first against right-hander Spenser Watkins, with Sheets — who grew up in Baltimore, where father Larry played for the Orioles in the 1980s — rapping a two-run single.

‘‘Huge win, chance to win a series [Thursday],’’ Sheets said. ‘‘My dad was sitting right behind [the backstop]. I can hear him through the whole at-bat. It’s a lot of fun coming here.’’

Sheets’ RBI infield single with two outs in the seventh gave the Sox a 3-1 lead.

Meanwhile, Giolito (10-7, 5.14 ERA) had one of his best starts of an inconsistent season. He allowed four hits and two walks and struck out three.

‘‘I felt very much more like myself from a rhythm standpoint, mentally,’’ Giolito said. ‘‘Tried to have conviction with every pitch.’’

La Russa moved Luis Robert and Jose Abreu down a notch in the lineup to third and fourth, respectively, and plans to deploy red-hot Eloy Jimenez, who missed the game with a bruised elbow, in the fifth spot in his likely return Thursday.

‘‘It has a real good chance to be more productive,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘It gives Abreu a chance to be more patient, and Eloy hits wherever you put him.’’

In his last at-bat, Robert looked bothered by the wrist injury that caused him to miss seven recent starts. But La Russa didn’t seem concerned.

‘‘When he takes an awkward swing, it hurts,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘But it doesn’t make it worse.’’

None of the Sox’ 12 hits went for extra bases. They were tied for 12th in the AL in homers with 103, which puts them on pace to match the 136 they hit in 2015, their fewest in a season since they hit 110 in 1992.

For a roster built to hit for power, such a shortage magnifies the Sox’ problems with runners in scoring position, although they were 7-for-17 in such situations Wednesday.

‘‘When you’re struggling like that, you try too hard,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘And the harder you try, the worse you do. . . . You can win games with base hits.’’

On this night, the Sox did just that. It helped that they got good pitching and played good defense. Putting it all together has ‘‘been very elusive this year,’’ Giolito said.

‘‘When we play the game clean, tight, we’re having fun and the dugout has a good atmosphere, we usually come out on top,’’ Giolito said. ‘‘We just want to keep that vibe going forward, win the series [Thursday] and keep getting after it.’’

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