CHICAGO — Anthony Santander looked over Jorge Mateo’s shoulder at an iPad in the Orioles dugout. Santander had just homered in the fourth inning against right-hander Mike Clevinger and, as they studied the screen, they were plotting a much-needed offensive eruption.

“We were talking about how his heater was sinking more today,” Mateo said through team interpreter Brandon Quinones. “It wasn’t going as straight as usual.”

Mateo came to the plate a few batters later and cranked the longest homer of his career 434 feet — doing so against a heater from Clevinger. The three-run blast gave the Orioles a much-needed jolt after a dormant stretch in St. Louis that resulted in a sweep at the hands of the Cardinals.

One performance doesn’t wipe away the meager offensive outputs at large, but an 8-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox to open a four-game series was a rebound from Baltimore’s first sweep in about two years, even with a late-inning bullpen conundrum and a befuddling umpire ruling that ended the game with Chicago’s go-ahead run at the plate.

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“We escaped there,” manager Brandon Hyde said, before adding: “We swung the bat really well. A lot of guys that had kind of been scuffling a little bit just put some really good swings on the baseball tonight.”

Baltimore’s offense has struggled for much of May. Entering Thursday’s game at Guaranteed Rate Field, the team batting average of .218 this month was the fourth lowest in the majors. The .280 on-base percentage was the third lowest.

The Orioles kept in games because of their pitching staff, and although right-hander Grayson Rodriguez wasn’t his best, he continued that trend. Rodriguez walked a career-high five batters and allowed a run each in the first and third innings. He called his fastball command atrocious.

But, once his batters gave him a three-run lead in the fourth, Rodriguez cruised through the fourth and fifth innings.

“Mateo’s homer was big for me,” Rodriguez said. “Seeing him being able to hit that ball, knowing that I have a chance to go five innings ... that was a big confidence boost, knowing I had some extra room to work with, with the command not being there. Knowing that all I had to do was get three outs.”

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Because of his elevated pitch count (94), Rodriguez’s night was over after five innings. Still, he has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of eight starts this year.

Behind Rodriguez, the bullpen held steady until right-hander Jonathan Heasley — freshly promoted in place of left-hander John Means, who landed on the injured list — created a jam. Heasley allowed a run and loaded the bases before he was pulled for right-hander Yennier Cano. Cano promptly hit a batter, bringing home another run, before a two-run single left Heasley charged with four runs.

It left manager Hyde with no choice but to turn to closer Craig Kimbrel as the third pitcher of the inning, despite having begun with a six-run lead.

The game ended on the bizarre call from the umpire crew. Kimbrel induced an infield pop-up that Gunnar Henderson caught at short, evading Andrew Vaughn, the runner on second, with only a slight bump. With the infield fly rule in effect, the crew also called Vaughn out, ending the game.

“There doesn’t have to actually even be contact,” umpire Junior Valentine told a pool reporter. “If he hinders the fielder in the attempt to field a batted ball, intent is not required and it’s interference.”

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“With the interference, that’s an out,” crew chief Adrian Johnson added. “And you still have the infield fly, and that’s an out also.”

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The interference decision, made by Valentine, left the White Sox broadcasters aghast and Orioles players confused.

Ozzie Guillén, the former All-Star, said on the White Sox postgame show he’d never seen a call like it in all his years of playing and managing. “Umpires should be embarrassed right now,” Guillén said. “They should be ashamed of themselves.”

Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle: “I didn’t really know what was going on. I saw Gunnar run into him a little bit, but I didn’t know he’d be out, too.”

Mateo: “It had been a while since I saw something like that, and honestly it was a little surprising, but glad that was the call at the end of the day.”

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The offense had provided enough cushion for even that late-inning collapse.

Baltimore’s offense has largely flowed through the bottom of its order. Including the three games in St. Louis, 12 of the 16 runs the Orioles have produced this road trip have been scored by their bottom three hitters. It continued Thursday with Mateo, Mountcastle and Cedric Mullins reaching and scoring.

Mateo’s homer was a major boost, although Mountcastle’s offensive performance was a significant turnaround for one of several slumping batters. Mountcastle had managed two hits in his previous seven games. On Thursday, he recorded four — his first four-hit game since Aug. 3.

Adley Rutschman drove in three runs, Austin Hays plated another, and Henderson walked three times as part of a resurgent offensive showing in a game that was made tighter on the scoreline because of the ninth-inning pitching stumble.

“You’d expect with a six-run lead that you can try to finish it there without using a couple guys and having three guys up that inning,” Hyde said. “I’m glad we won the game.”

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  • Right-hander Tyler Wells, who is rehabbing in Florida after landing on the injured list with elbow discomfort, will begin playing catch this week, Hyde said. It’s a step forward in his recovery, even if it’s a minor one.
  • Right-hander Mike Baumann, who was designated for assignment to make room for Rodriguez’s return, was traded to the Seattle Mariners along with catcher Michael Pérez. In return, the Orioles received 25-year-old catcher Blake Hunt and optioned Hunt to Triple-A Norfolk. Hunt is hitting .293 this year.