CHICAGO — Adley Rutschman needed the day off. With three day games upcoming, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde wanted his catcher to rest, to be ready for the stretch of games to come, and Friday night seemed as good a time as any.

But Rutschman always seems to find a way into a game, even on his rest days. His offensive upside and defensive acumen tend to require Rutschman’s insertion.

“I’m sure he’ll be in there,” Hyde deadpanned before the game.

That moment arose, just as Hyde figured it might, in the top of the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox. With two runners on and two outs, Hyde made the decision. He pinch hit for outfielder Cedric Mullins with Rutschman and, with the game tied, Rutschman came through.

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Rutschman lined a two-run single into left field, just out of the diving reach of Andrew Benintendi, to give Baltimore a 6-4 lead to which to cling. The clutch full-count, two-out swing from Rutschman was all that was required; Rutschman was lifted for a pinch runner immediately after.

“I’m going to try to pick the spot that I feel like is kind of a game-deciding moment for him when we need him,” Hyde said. “I’d love to give him the full day off, but there’s certain circumstances where I feel like he’s the right option in a big spot.”

The Orioles closed out a second victory to begin a four-game series against the White Sox, battling through rain and a Chicago rally with the aid of one plate appearance from Rutschman and a leaping grab at the center field fence from Colton Cowser for the final out.

When Cowser ran toward the mound, he held the ball out to Craig Kimbrel, who recorded the 428th save of his career. Cowser threw the ball from Kimbrel’s 422nd save into the fountains at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, and he seemed intent on not repeating the mistake.

But this time Kimbrel pointed to Cowser, as if to insist that a play as spectacular as that warranted the ball from the final out.

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“Everyone was ecstatic,” Rutschman said. “You kind of see him go up, and everyone knows that’s going to be a close play, but I love the fact he was mic’d up for that [on Apple TV], so I can’t wait to hear what it comes out as.”

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The Orioles wouldn’t mind an easier go of things in Chicago. On Thursday, a four-run ninth inning brought Chicago back into the game. Friday was no easy one either, although having Corbin Burnes on the mound was a solid starting point for stability. He’s the ace of the staff, acquired this offseason in a marquee trade with the Milwaukee Brewers. Left-hander John Means and right-hander Dean Kremer were new additions to the injured list this week, pushing the rotation into more fluidity.

But Burnes wavered slightly as the game went along and allowed three runs in six innings.

It could’ve been more against him.

In the fourth, a sliding play at second base from Jorge Mateo kept the ball in the infield and loaded the bases with two outs. If Mateo hadn’t cut off that ball, at least one run scores. Instead, Burnes forced an inning-ending groundout.

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“How ’bout Mateo?” Hyde said, commending the fourth-inning play and another putout Mateo completed in the ninth.

The fifth inning, though, got away from Burnes. He allowed two singles before Andrew Vaughn’s RBI double. And, with two outs, Paul DeJong plated two more runs with a single that cut Baltimore’s lead to one.

Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins catches a shallow fly ball during the fourth inning Friday night in Chicago. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

Burnes stranded a runner on third to end his outing in the sixth. He’s pitched more innings than anyone on the pitching staff. But in general, the Orioles could use lengthier outings from their starters to alleviate the stress on a heavily used bullpen. This week, starters have covered 23 innings in five games, leaving the bullpen to carry the load for 22 others.

“The last thing you want to do is try to go out there and stretch what you cannot do and try to make up for a guy that’s down,” Burnes said. “There’s other guys who are going to step up and fill those innings and do a great job.”

Jordan Westburg’s RBI double in the third and Gunnar Henderson’s two-run homer in the fifth — Henderson’s 17th long ball of the season — provided an early lead.

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Of course, the Orioles could’ve tacked on more runs if an unlucky bounce hadn’t stopped a runner at third. Ryan Mountcastle’s double bounced into the stands, halting Ryan O’Hearn on his turn toward home plate. A flyout ended the inning with Mountcastle and O’Hearn stranded in scoring position.

That loomed large in the moment, especially after Vaughn launched a solo home run against right-hander Yennier Cano to tie the game in the seventh.

But there was Rutschman, in the game despite a day off, to record the crucial two-run single.

“That’s not an easy spot,” Hyde said. “To be able to be on time and get on top of a fastball like that shows you how special of a player he is.”

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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