CHICAGO -- Hector Santiago was impressive for the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night, but Boston Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz was even better.
Powered by another strong outing by Buchholz, the unbeaten American League ERA leader, the Red Sox avoided a three-game series sweep by beating the White Sox 6-2 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Boston concluded a nine-game road trip with six wins. Combined with a loss by the New York Yankees, the Red Sox will open a six-game homestand at Fenway Park on Thursday just a half-game out of first in the AL East.
The Red Sox (28-19) scored two runs in the first inning, two in the eighth and two in the ninth to make sure Buchholz improved to 7-0 -- becoming just the third undefeated pitcher in the majors with at least seven victories.
Buchholz went seven strong innings, giving up one run on five hits and three walks. He struck out four.
David Ortiz led the way offensively for Boston by going 2-for-5 with two RBIs, which he picked up with a single to left in the first. Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-for-3 and was the only other Red Sox hitter with more than one hit.
Chicago's Alex Rios went 1-for-3 and extended his career-high hitting streak to 17 games, the AL's longest. He had a single in the seventh.
Paul Konerko hit a solo home run in the ninth to complete the scoring for the White Sox (21-24), who were trying to complete their first series sweep of the season.
Chicago got a good outing from Santiago, who nearly matched Buchholz after a rough start, but the White Sox bullpen couldn't keep it close enough for Konerko's late homer to matter.
Making an unexpected start for Chris Sale, who was scratched because of shoulder tendinitis, Santiago struck out nine and allowed two runs in six innings. He also saved the bullpen a long night by settling into a groove after allowing the first two runs just four hitters into the game.
In the first inning, Ortiz's single to left plated Jonny Gomes and Dustin Pedroia, who'd been hit by a pitch and doubled to left, respectively. Santiago then walked Mike Napoli before settling down. He struck out Daniel Nava and Will Middlebrooks to end the threat.
Buchholz also had some control issues early. He allowed a hit and two walks in the first inning, but escaped without allowing a run. A nice catch by Gomes on Paul Konerko's sinking liner to left with two runners on base highlighted the escape.
Chicago cut the lead to 2-1 in the third by manufacturing a run. Rios had an RBI groundout.
NOTES: Ventura said he is not in favor of using a six-man rotation to ease the workload on Sale. ... Red Sox RHP Ryan Dempster will make his regularly scheduled start against the Cleveland Indians on Thursday despite throwing 127 pitches in just 4 2/3 innings in his previous outing on May 18 in Minnesota. Manager John Farrell said Dempster won't necessarily have his pitch count reduced as a result of the heavy workload against the Twins. ... Red Sox OF Shane Victorino ran on a treadmill Thursday afternoon and reported that his tight hamstring started to loosen up. He is day-to-day. ... Boston C David Ross passed Major League Baseball's concussion protocol and will make a start behind the plate Thursday for Double-A Portland. Ross will catch LHP Franklin Morales, who's also in the minors on a rehab stint. Farrell said Ross might only have to make the one start before returning to the active roster.