Reynaldo Lopez’s brilliant outing leads White Sox past Orioles
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BALTIMORE — Reynaldo Lopez is showing no signs of fatigue in the last month of his first full season in the major leagues.
In fact, he’s charging to the finish line.
The 24-year-old right-hander made his fifth consecutive start without giving up more than two runs, this time pitching seven scoreless innings in the White Sox’ 2-0 victory Saturday against the Orioles at Camden Yards.
Lopez allowed four hits, struck out six and walked one. This latest gem followed six scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in his last start against the Angels and two seven-inning outings with one run allowed against the Yankees and Tigers. The start Aug. 29 against the Yankees was a turning point, he said.
Lopez (6-9) lowered his ERA, which was 4.72 on Aug. 19, to 4.05 against the struggling Orioles, who fell to an unsightly 42-106. In his last five starts, he has a 1.10 ERA with 35 strikeouts and nine walks in 32 2/3 innings.
‘‘I’m feeling good,’’ Lopez said through a translator. ‘‘We know the last month of the season is probably the hardest one, and that is why I have worked all season long for this moment. My body feels good, and my arm is strong.’’
At 175 2/3 innings in 30 starts, Lopez ranks second on the team to James Shields (192 2/3 innings and 31 starts) in both categories. His previous high was 168 2/3 innings between the Sox and Class AAA Charlotte last season.
Had Lopez shown signs of tiring in September, he probably would have seen his workload lightened. But there is no need for that.
‘‘Our eyes are telling us where [our young pitchers] are at,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. ‘‘If you look at [Lopez], he’s freaking throwing 97 or 98 miles per hour. I’d be hard-pressed to tell you he was struggling.’’
To the contrary, Lopez is averaging 10 strikeouts per nine innings in his last five starts after averaging 6.5 in the 16 before that. Locating his slider, curveball and changeup to go with his fastball has been key.
‘‘I don’t think this outing was any different than the previous [few starts],’’ Lopez said. ‘‘I was overexcited in the first two innings, too hyped. But when I slowed it down, I was effective commanding all of my pitches.’’
Lopez, who threw 73 of his 104 pitches for strikes, yielded a single to Trey Mancini and a walk to Chris Davis with one out in the seventh. He then struck out Tim Beckham on a perfectly located slider down and away and got Renato Nunez on a soft pop to first baseman Jose Abreu to end the inning.
The Sox (59-89) won their third game in a row, getting the only run they would need when Yoan Moncada lined his 26th double into the right-field corner and scored on Yolmer Sanchez’s 31st double, a blooper down the left-field line, in the sixth. Moncada has reached base safely in 22 of his last 23 games and is batting .289 during that span.
Avisail Garcia cracked his second home run in as many nights — after clubbing one in the Sox’ 8-6 victory Friday — in the ninth to give the Sox a 2-0 lead.
Garcia said the Sox aren’t going through the motions with 14 games left in the season.
‘‘We came here to play 100 percent and try to do our best and try to win every single game,’’ Garcia said. ‘‘Just trying to do our job.’’
September call-up Caleb Frare did his job by getting two outs in the eighth before Juan Minaya got the last four outs for his first save of the season.
The shutout was only the Sox’ third in the 27-year history of Camden Yards and their first since 2001.