It hasn’t been easy, but the Chicago White Sox have put together consecutive wins for the first time in almost a month.
The White Sox look to win three straight for the first time since the first week of July and go for a series sweep when they close out their three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles Sunday at Camden Yards.
The last time Chicago (61-41) won three games in a row was also against Baltimore, from July 4-6 during a four-game set at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox have not swept an AL opponent since a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics from May 22-24.
After needing a grand slam in the ninth inning to win on Friday, Chicago’s 13-11 victory on Saturday also came down to the final inning. The White Sox bullpen nearly sqaundered a seven-run lead to the Orioles (47-58) before Bobby Jenks retired Jeff Conine for the last out and his 28th save of the season.
“Real bad game,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “When you score 13 runs and have your closer on the mound, it’s not a good sign. It’s a good thing we (won) it.”
Despite the two wins to open this series, the White Sox have dropped 12 of their last 17 games. Chicago remains 8 1/2 games behind the Tigers for first place in the AL Central, but leads both the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees by one-half game in the wild card race after each of those clubs lost Saturday.
“Any win is a good win. We gave up 11 but scored 13 to win,” said Pierzynski, whose five hits were a career-high. “Right now we just need to win games. We don’t care if it’s 25-24 or 1-0. It doesn’t matter.”
Chicago will hand the ball to Javier Vazquez (9-6, 5.31 ERA) on Sunday. Vazquez has lost his last two starts and hasn’t won since July 6 against Baltimore. In his most recent start on Monday against the Twins, the right-hander allowed five runs in six innings of a 7-4 defeat.
Vazquez is 5-2 with a 5.55 ERA in eight career starts against the Orioles. He allowed five runs and five hits in just 5 1-3 innings against them in the July 6 outing, but received seven runs of support in the 11-8 win.
The Orioles counter with Bruce Chen (0-6, 7.09), who is making his first start since May 31 as he replaces Kris Benson (elbow tendinitis) in the rotation. Chen was relegated to the bullpen after going winless in his first 11 starts of the season. He went 0-1 with a 5.92 ERA in 14 relief appearances.
“I don’t feel like I have anything to prove,” said Chen, who is 0-1 with a 5.28 ERA in five career appearances against Chicago. “I like starting, but I’ll do anything to help this ballclub.”
Baltimore has lost seven of its last 10 games.