Orioles escape White Sox on game-ending interference call

The Chicago White Sox are already the worst team in the major leagues, so they didn't need this: their rally Thursday night against the Baltimore Orioles being cut short by a controversial and game-ending runner interference call.

The play resulted in a double play for the final outs in Baltimore's 8-6 victory.

With two on and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Andrew Benintendi popped up. Shortstop Gunnar Henderson caught the ball -- umpires had called the infield fly rule anyway -- for the second out, then third-base umpire Junior Valentine ruled that Andrew Vaughn interfered with Henderson on the play.

"It was a big surprise," said Vaughn, who was the runner at second and ruled out. "I don't feel like he was deterred from making a play. It was a high pop-up. We were all reading it. As a runner, I've got to read it and make sure I can get back to the bag."

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol argued vehemently with umpires at the conclusion of the stunning final sequence.

There certainly was confusion, and the play ended the rally for the White Sox, who had scored four runs in the ninth.

"I felt like we escaped there," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said.

Crew chief Adrian Johnson said there is no discretion when a baserunner appears to make incidental contact with a fielder -- even if the play results in a defensive out.

"If he hinders the fielder in the attempt to field a batted ball, intent is not required and it's interference," Johnson said after Valentine made the game-ending call. "When you see the interference, you call it."

The White Sox, who have won only once in their past seven games, will try again to gain traction during their seven-game homestand that began Thursday night.

The Orioles halted a season-worst three-game losing streak by prevailing in the series opener.

"We're able to breathe a little bit, thankfully," said Baltimore's Jorge Mateo, who hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning.

The Orioles produced 13 hits, four by first baseman Ryan Mountcastle.

"We swung the bat really well," Hyde said. "A lot of guys who had been scuffling a little bit put some really good swings on the baseball. We would have loved to see us tack on a little bit more."

Still, the eight runs were the most in a six-game stretch for Baltimore.

The six runs allowed by the Orioles were also notable. That matched the second-most scoring by an opponent this year in any of Baltimore's 30 victories.

On Friday, right-hander Corbin Burnes (4-2, 2.56 ERA) will start for the Orioles, going for back-to-back victories after holding the Seattle Mariners without an earned run in six innings of Baltimore's 6-3 win Sunday. He struck out 11 for the second time this season.

"I'm happy with how my stuff looks," Burnes said. "Happy how the ball is coming out. Can't really complain about it."

Burnes has worked at least six innings in his past five starts, though this will mark just his second road assignment since April 20. He has made three career appearances against the White Sox, going 1-0 with a 4.70 ERA.

Among the negatives for the Orioles from Thursday night is that they used five relievers, including three in the ninth inning.

Right-hander Chris Flexen (2-4, 5.48 ERA) will be on the mound for Chicago, trying to bounce back from Sunday's rough outing against the New York Yankees. He allowed seven runs on eight hits in four innings in Chicago's 7-2 loss.

"It's just about executing pitches," Flexen said.

In three career starts against Baltimore, Flexen is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA. The loss came in August when he was a member of the Colorado Rockies.

Information from The Associated Press and Field Level Media was used in this report.