CHICAGO (AP)—Sure, the Chicago White Sox had a six-game winning streak— against Pittsburgh and Washington. How would they do against the NL’s best?
As it turned out, just fine.
They roughed up one of baseball’s top young pitchers, Tommy Hanson(notes), and rolled to a 9-6 victory Tuesday night over the Atlanta Braves, who came in with a five-game winning streak and a 34-14 mark over the previous seven weeks.
“We’re lucky. That’s what people want to hear,” manager Ozzie Guillen said after his White Sox won for the 11th time in 12 games to go over .500 for the first time since they were 1-0.
“I think people don’t believe we can play very well. People forgot those guys (White Sox players) have some credentials. They have numbers in the past. We just didn’t play the way we should have been playing early in the season.”
On June 8, the White Sox were 24-33 and 9 1/2 games behind Minnesota in the AL Central. Now they are 35-34 and 4 1/2 games back.
Chicago had 13 of its season-high 16 hits during Hanson’s 3 2-3 innings. The first 10 were singles before Carlos Quentin’s(notes) three-run homer put the White Sox up 9-3 in the fourth. It was their first home run in nine games since Alex Rios(notes) went deep June 12.
The White Sox are 11-2 against NL teams this season and 139-103 since interleague play began in 1997.
“If we had been getting beat by those teams, we’d have been written off as the worst team in the league,” said White Sox starter John Danks(notes), who allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings.
“We have no control of who’s on our schedule. We’re playing good baseball. We’ve been saying all along we’re a good team. The record looks a lot better, and we feel we’re back in the mix.”
Danks (7-5) spotted Atlanta a 3-0 lead before retiring 15 of the last 18 batters he faced to post his third straight victory.
Hanson (7-4), meanwhile, surrendered a career-high nine runs as his four-game winning streak ended. He had been 4-0 with a 0.75 ERA against AL teams and had a string of 23 consecutive scoreless innings in interleague play before A.J. Pierzynski’s(notes) two-run single in the second.
Hanson’s ERA rose from 3.38 to 4.17 and he didn’t record a strikeout for the first time in his two-year career. Not including Tuesday’s game and an eight-run blowup May 20 against Cincinnati, Hanson has a 2.56 ERA in 13 starts.
“It was actually pretty embarrassing,” Hanson said. “I didn’t make my pitches and they let me know. Every fastball I threw over the plate, they crushed. Whatever I threw, they hit. It should be interesting watching the video … but I definitely don’t want to watch right now.”
Chicago starters have a 2.16 ERA during the 11-1 surge. Danks seemed ready to break that string, giving up Martin Prado’s(notes) leadoff homer and Brooks Conrad’s(notes) two-run double in the second, but he retired the next 11 batters.
“You don’t want to be the weak link,” Danks said. “We’re feeding off each other.”
The White Sox sent 10 men to the plate and scored five times in their half of the second on two-run singles by Pierzynski and Omar Vizquel(notes) and Rios’ RBI infield hit. Hanson threw 36 pitches in the inning.
Alexei Ramirez’s(notes) third-inning single made it 6-3 before the White Sox broke it open in the fourth. Rios and Paul Konerko(notes) singled before Quentin’s homer— with Rios’ hit coming after Conrad, playing third base, momentarily lost the ball in his shirt.
“Just ridiculous,” Conrad said. “It hit me in the chest and … went in between the second and third button. Crazy. And sure enough, Quentin hits the home run after that. I felt bad, but really just a freak play. You’ll probably never see that again.”
Konerko, Ramirez and Pierzynski had three singles apiece for the White Sox. Konerko is batting .429 over his last 19 games and Pierzynski .438 over his last nine.
Brian McCann(notes) homered and Conrad had an RBI double in the ninth for the Braves, who had won 42 straight games when scoring five or more runs. Bobby Jenks(notes) got the final out for his 15th save.
NOTES: Nationals pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg(notes) already is a household name—except in Ozzie’s household. In downplaying his team’s recent sweep at Washington, Guillen said: “We only scored one run against the first guy, Starborough, or whatever his name is.” … The Braves activated RHP Takashi Saito(notes) (strained left hamstring) from the 15-day DL and sent RHP Craig Kimbrel(notes) to Triple-A Gwinnett. … Chicago RHP Jake Peavy(notes) has some shoulder pain but says he’ll make his scheduled start Friday against the Cubs. … Braves RHP Jesse Chavez(notes) took over for Hanson and allowed three hits over 4 1-3 scoreless innings.