(SportsNetwork.com) - The Baltimore Orioles hope the return of Miguel Gonzalez to the rotation on Sunday afternoon can help them avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs.
The American League East-leading Orioles came into this series having won four in a row, including a three-game sweep of the hosting Chicago White Sox, but have been bested in the first games of this set as they are meeting the Cubs for the first time since 2008. Baltimore won two of three in that series.
Still, the O's lead the division by seven games over the New York Yankees and have recalled Gonzalez to take the rotation spot of Ubaldo Jimenez, who has gone 4-9 with a 4.83 earned run average this season while missing time with injury.
Jimenez, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal this past offseason, has been demoted to the bullpen. Gonzalez, meanwhile, makes his first start with Baltimore since Aug. 7 as he was optioned a few days later to make room on the roster for Jimenez despite a 6-6 record and 3.80 earned run average over 20 games (19 starts).
"Yeah, it was a tough decision for them," Gonzalez told Baltimore's website of the demotion. "I'm one of the few guys who have options, so it was a decision for them to make. I went down, got my work in and I'm ready to rock and roll."
The 30-year-old righty returns to face the Cubs for the first time in his career and will be countered by rookie Tsuyoshi Wada.
Wada has gone 3-1 with a 2.44 ERA over his first seven major league starts and was recently awarded a victory from a start on Tuesday that was suspended and resumed on Thursday. Chicago won 2-1 after play picked up.
Before rain halted the game on Tuesday, the left-handed Wada hurled five scoreless innings of six-hit ball, striking out three without giving up a walk.
The Cubs saw more rain on Saturday, but got in a full nine innings to beat the Orioles 7-2 thanks to a four-run second inning. Chris Coghlan highlighted the frame with a two-out triple that plated three runs.
A 3-hour, 9-minute rain delay followed Chicago's second-inning outburst. Javier Baez later led off the seventh inning with a homer, his seventh of the campaign as the Cubs won for the fifth time in seven games.
"We have the talent to win. I think why Baltimore wins so often and why they're so good is how consistent they are. That's an area of growth we could use," Coghlan said.
Bud Norris allowed four runs on four hits and a walk over the first two frames for Baltimore.
"They got a good team that's young and up-and-coming," Norris said of the Cubs.
Baltimore confirmed earlier Saturday that third baseman Manny Machado will undergo season-ending surgery on his injured right knee in the coming week.