BALTIMORE – An awful first inning prevented Joe Saunders from making a positive first impression in his debut with the Baltimore Orioles.
The White Sox scored seven runs off Saunders, who was outpitched by rookie Dylan Axelrod in Chicago's 8-1 victory Wednesday night.
Obtained on Sunday in a trade that sent reliever Matt Lindstrom to Arizona, Saunders (0-1) gave up 10 hits and six earned runs in 5 1-3 innings. He yielded four runs before getting three outs and never once retired the side in order.
"It just didn't go my way there in the first, and that was pretty much the game as it ends up," said Saunders, who grew up an Orioles fan in northern Virginia. Baltimore is his third stop in a major league career that began in 2005 with the Angels.
Eager to impress the home fans, Saunders got off to a miserable start, allowing four hits and a walk in the lamentable first inning.
"I was making good pitches," he insisted. "I kind of looked back at (catcher Matt Wieters) and said, 'What's going on here?'"
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter blamed the left-hander's inconsistent outing on a long layoff and the transition of joining a new team.
"I put myself in his shoes with the eight days off because of the trade and the travel and what-have-you," Showalter said. "I'll certainly give him that respect of a guy who's had success. He'll contribute here."
Gordon Beckham had three hits and three RBIs to help Chicago snap a five-game road losing streak. Alexei Ramirez went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and scored twice for the White Sox, who will seek a split of the four-game series on Thursday.
Omar Quintanilla drove in the lone run for the Orioles, whose four-game winning streak ended. Baltimore remained 3½ games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East.
Axelrod (2-2) allowed one run, three hits and four walks in 7 1-3 innings to earn his third career win. Recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to replace injured Gavin Floyd, the right-hander retired 13 straight batters before a one-out walk in the eighth ended his night.
After the game, Axelrod was optioned to Double-A Birmingham. He looked at that as a positive, because if he returned to playoff-bound Charlotte the right-hander would have to stay there for 10 days.
"They are in the playoffs and I wouldn't have been able to come back," Axelrod said. "I'll get my work and get ready to come back. I am thankful that they want me back soon."
The Orioles' success of late and the prospect of seeing Saunders' debut barely caused a ripple at the turnstiles: The game drew a crowd of 13,098.
Saunders launched the Baltimore portion of his career in wretched fashion. Dewayne Wise singled on Saunders' second pitch and Kevin Youkilis hit a fly ball to the warning track in center before Adam Dunn walked. After Paul Konerko got an infield hit, Alex Rios hit a two-run double and Ramirez singled in two runs.
"I thought the only bad pitch was to Rios, and he hit that double," Saunders said.
Chicago added an unearned run in the fourth when Beckham hit an RBI double after Wieters dropped a foul pop behind the plate.
Baltimore closed to 5-1 in the bottom half when Wieters doubled, took third on a fly ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by Quintanilla, his career-high 16th RBI of the season.
Saunders was pulled after the White Sox opened the sixth with two singles and a sacrifice. Beckham greeted Kevin Gregg with a two-run single.
An RBI single by Dayan Viciedo made it 8-1 in the seventh.
NOTES: Showalter shot down the notion of prized pitching prospect Dylan Bundy joining the club when rosters expand on Sept. 1. Showalter said he wants the 19-year-old to focus on pitching for Double-A Bowie in the playoffs before participating in the instructional league. ... Chicago's A.J. Pierzynski wasn't in the starting lineup, but manager Robin Ventura said the catcher would start in the series finale. Pierzynski is hitless in his last 14 at-bats and 5 for 31 over his last 10 games. ... White Sox RHP Jake Peavy is still expected to start in Detroit on Friday despite being hindered by an eye infection. ... Baltimore has been outscored 80-48 in the first inning this season. ... Inserted as a defensive replacement in the seventh, Chicago 3B Ray Olmedo promptly made an outstanding stop on Mark Reynolds' grounder down the line, then threw him out.