CHICAGO — Mike Mussina is expected to rejoin Baltimore's rotation Sunday. Jimmy Key says that alone won't be enough to turn things around for the Orioles.
"We've got to pick it up," Key said after leading Baltimore over the Chicago White Sox, 4-1, Thursday and stopping a four-game losing streak.
"Whether Mike comes back or Scott [Kamieniecki] comes back or Brady [Anderson] comes back," Key said, "there's no guarantee that because they're coming back we're going to play well. We've got to play well."
Joe Carter and Jeffrey Hammonds homered to support Key.
A night after the White Sox pounded the Orioles, 16-7, Carter hit a solo homer leading off the third and Hammonds hit a two-run shot later that inning, helping Baltimore to just its fourth win in 15 games.
"It's nice to win a ballgame," said Oriole Manager Ray Miller, who was trying to celebrate his 53rd birthday with a postgame cigar. His lighter wouldn't work, which he joked symbolized the way things have been going.
Key (4-1), who has allowed one run or no runs in five of six starts, improved to 21-7 against Chicago, and is 7-0 with a 1.70 ERA in his last 10 starts against the White Sox.
"This is a good hitting ballclub and they always have been since I've been in the league," Key said, "but for some reason I always do well against them."
"He's good," Chicago's Robin Ventura said. "I was just swinging at everything and anything that got close."
Key allowed the one run and four hits in seven innings and struck out five. Armando Benitez pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
It was only the third win by an Orioles starter in 14 games. Baltimore's starters began the season 9-2.
Frank Thomas, Chicago's designated hitter and the defending AL batting champion, was upset after the game about plate umpire Tim McClelland's strike zone. Thomas was called out on strikes in the fourth inning with a runner on.
"I've always walked 100 times a year. I know the strike zone," Thomas said. "I'm getting tired of day in and day out having people explain my strike zone. I'm tired of it, I really am."
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NEXT SERIES FOR ANGELS
WHO: Chicago White Sox
WHERE: Edison Field
WHEN: Tonight, 7, Saturday, 7 p.m., Sunday, 5 p.m., Monday, 7 p.m.