White Sox squeeze Angels 6-2 behind John Danks

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—With the season winding down for the Chicago White Sox, it was quite a relief for manager Ozzie Guillen and pitching coach Don Cooper to see one of their starters finally get a win after three weeks without one.

John Danks(notes) ended the drought with eight impressive innings in a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night. His first win since Sept. 4 ended a drought of 18 consecutive winless starts by Chicago’s rotation—a franchise record that broke the previous mark of 15 in 1985.

The starters were 0-9 with a 6.45 ERA during that 18-game stretch.

“I don’t know what to say about that. It’s tough,” Danks said. “Obviously, we haven’t been pitching the way we wanted to pitch this month, and we kind of let the team down on some respects. So I wanted to go out and have a good one.”

Danks is 14-11, Mark Buehrle(notes) 12-12, Gavin Floyd(notes) 10-13 and Freddy Garcia(notes) 11-6. Jake Peavy(notes) was 7-6 in 17 starts before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery on July 14, and Edwin Jackson(notes) is 3-2 in nine starts since coming over from Arizona.

“Coming into the year, we thought that we were one of the top three or four rotations in the league,” Danks said. “But with Jake’s injury, and the rest of us not quite pitching the way we thought we would, it’s a little disappointing.”

Danks allowed two runs and seven hits with five strikeouts to establish a career high for wins, surpassing his totals from 2008 and 2009. The left-hander, who held the Angels to two hits in a 1-0 victory July 8 at Chicago for his only big league shutout, made 110 pitches in the rematch.

“He’s throwing more strikes now. In the past, he’s struggled trying to find the plate, and that’s when he got in trouble,” Guillen said.

J.J. Putz(notes) issued a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Hank Conger(notes) in the ninth and Chris Sale(notes) got the last three outs. Manny Ramirez(notes) capped a four-run third with an RBI double and Juan Pierre(notes) pushed across a run with a suicide squeeze.

“Hopefully, Maury Wills was watching, because I worked a lot with him on squeeze bunts in spring training with the Dodgers,” Pierre said with a grin.

The White Sox improved to 82-72, assuring Guillen of his fifth winning record in seven seasons as manager. The only skipper in franchise history with more winning seasons was Hall of Famer Al Lopez, who finished above .500 in each of his nine full seasons on the South Side (1957-65).

Scott Kazmir(notes) (9-15) gave up five runs and five hits over three-plus innings in the shortest of his 27 starts this season. The beleaguered left-hander, a two-time All-Star with Tampa Bay, is 2-10 with a 7.00 ERA over his last 14 starts. At Angel Stadium, he is 0-8 with a 6.65 ERA in nine starts since consecutive wins April 20 and April 25 against the Tigers and Yankees.

“He’s a guy who’s been really fighting to get a foothold as a major league starting pitcher again and continue his career,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s had some injuries and some mechanical issues that have set him back, but he’s totally committed himself to an offseason that will change the dynamics of how he works out and prepares for a season.”

Kazmir doesn’t necessarily need to add a pitch to his repertoire. He just needs to regain one that has been giving him difficulty all season.

“The slider had been a ghost pitch for him,” Scioscia said. “He definitely needs to spin the ball more consistently.”

In their first game since getting eliminated from postseason contention for the first time since 2006, the Angels got the jump on Danks in the first inning with an RBI double by Howie Kendrick(notes) and a run-scoring single by Torii Hunter(notes). But the White Sox grabbed a 4-2 lead with a two-run single by Alexei Ramirez(notes), followed by RBI doubles from Alex Rios(notes) and Manny Ramirez.

For Manny, his opposite-field hit to the wall in right-center on a 2-2 pitch was only his second RBI in 60 at-bats since joining the White Sox on a waiver claim from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 31. The other came on a home run against Detroit’s Max Scherzer(notes) on Sept. 17 at Chicago.

Ramon Castro(notes) increased the margin to 5-2 in the fourth with his eighth home run, a leadoff drive to center that chased Kazmir. It was the 25th homer allowed by Kazmir—two more than his previous high in 2008 with the Rays—and the 15th with the bases empty.

The White Sox have won six straight against the Angels for the first time since 1992. The last time Chicago had a longer streak against them was June 1983 to June 1994, when they reeled off 10 in a row.

NOTES: Kazmir is winless in his last six starts against the White Sox. He did not record a strikeout, and still needs nine for 1,000. … The Angels handed out their second annual Nick Adenhart(notes) Award to Jered Weaver(notes), who also won it last year. Weaver is 13-11, but his 2.99 ERA and 220 strikeouts gave him the nod over Ervin Santana(notes), who has a career-high 17 wins with two starts remaining. … Hunter was awarded the annual Owner’s Trophy as Angels MVP in a vote by his teammates.

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