CHICAGO (AP)—It looked like it would be a short night for John Burkett after the first four White Sox hitters all doubled and he found himself in a 3-0 hole before recording an out.
“Whatever I threw it seemed that they were smacking it,” the Boston pitcher said.
Burkett started throwing more curveballs and suddenly he was unhittable. He retired the next 18 batters and struck out a season-high nine in a 7-4 Red Sox win over Chicago on Tuesday night.
“He was outstanding after the first four hitters,” Boston manager Grady Little said. “He was putting balls right where he wanted to. His control was pinpoint.”
Burkett said the White Sox jumped on his fastball early, so he decided to start mixing in more off-speed pitches.
“I did that for a couple of innings, then went back to my fastball,” he said. “Thank God I had command of it when I went back to it. It seemed like I was throwing it right where I wanted to the whole time.”
The White Sox were baffled, striking out looking eight times.
They were also frustrated by the umpiring. Frank Thomas broke his bat on home plate in the sixth inning after he was called out for a second time on an inside pitch. He was ejected when he argued with home plate umpire Eric Cooper as he took the field for the top of the seventh.
White Sox manager Jerry Manuel didn’t complain, saying Burkett was simply fooling his hitters.
He was throwing pitches where “the ball appeared to be a ball at the beginning of the pitch and it ran back across the strike zone,” Manuel said. “The guy just had good stuff.”
Chicago’s Bartolo Colon (6-7) gave up seven hits and five earned runs in six innings. He struck out nine and walked two.
Willie Harris, D’Angelo Jimenez, Thomas and Magglio Ordonez all doubled off Burkett in the first inning. Ordonez was given a ground-rule double when his drive struck either the top of the wall or the bottom of the foul pole in the right-field corner and caromed into the stands. Replays were inconclusive as to what the ball struck. Ordonez was stranded on second.
Chicago’s early lead didn’t last long. Millar and Nixon hit back-to-back solo homers in the second inning followed by Ramirez’s shot in the third—his 16th.
Brian Daubach, subbing for the ejected Thomas, hit a solo home run off ofTimlin in the eighth.
Ramirez has nine home runs and 20 RBIs in his last 15 games. … The Red Sox are 3-16 when scoring fewer than five runs and 37-13 when scoring five or more. … Colon had pitched at least eight innings in six of his last sevenstarts.