CHICAGO -- Adam Dunn's two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning gave winning pitcher Chris Sale (2-2) the extra cushion he needed as the White Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2 on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Dunn connected on a 0-and-1 pitch from Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson (1-2) and parked it into the right field stands for his fourth homer of the season. Alex Rios, who had walked ahead of Dunn, also scored.
Dunn has struggled miserably of late. Coming into the game, he was 2 for 46 (double, home run) in his previous 12 games.
While he walked three times in Wednesday's win over the Cleveland Indians, Dunn has remained mired in one of the worst hitting slumps of his career.
The White Sox (9-12) have now won their last two games after a four-game losing streak. Sale, who also has struggled this season, was in much better form, allowing two runs and four hits, struck out seven and walked just four.
The loss was only the second for the Rays (10-12) in their last seven games.
Hellickson gave up five runs and five hits, walked four and struck out eight. He threw 111 pitches, but only 68 for strikes.
Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Desmond Jennings walked, moved to second on an infield ground out and scored on Evan Longoria's single to left field.
The White Sox came back with three runs in their half of the inning.
Alejandro De Aza and Jeff Keppinger had back-to-back doubles, Alex Rios walked, Paul Konerko singled to left, scoring Keppinger and pushing Rios to third, followed by Conor Gillaspie's sacrifice fly that scored Rios with the third run.
Tampa made it a 3-2 game in the top of the fourth on Jose Lobaton's first homer of the season, a solo effort with two out.
The White Sox came into the game with one-game winning streak after losing the previous four games. Still, Chicago was 1-3 on the current homestand coming into Thursday.
Tampa Bay began a 10-game road trip Thursday with a four-game series at Chicago. From there, they'll visit Kansas City and Colorado for a pair of three-game series.
Tampa Bay came into the game having won five of its last six and six of eight after losing seven of its previous eight.
After not allowing an extra-base hit to the Yankees in the last two games of their series, the Rays gave up two doubles to the White Sox in the first inning, leading to Chicago's first run of the game.
One of the most interesting tidbits in Thursday's Rays media notes was about the team's most recent homestand and the "guests" that manager Joe Maddon brought into the clubhouse to keep the team loose.
Last Saturday, Maddon hosted a DJ. On Sunday, it was a magician. On Tuesday, it was a cockatoo named Mindy, and on Wednesday, two penguins named Cliff and Shelly graced the Rays' locker room.
The guests must have worked: Tampa finished the homestand 5-1.
NOTES: Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar did not play Thursday. He remains day to day after leaving Wednesday's game vs. the Yankees in the sixth inning because of tightness in his right hamstring. ... Designated hitter Luke Scott continued his rehab assignment Thursday at Class A Charlotte. There's no word on when Scott will return to the big-league team from the right calf strain that put him on the DL back on March 24. ... Wednesday's 3-0 win over the Yankees gave the Rays the lead in shutouts (five) in the American League and tied with St. Louis and San Francisco for the major-league lead. ... The White Sox came into Thursday's game last in the AL with a .161 average (18 of 112) of pushing home runners in scoring position, including 1 for 18 in their last five games. ... White Sox manager Robin Ventura came into the game seven wins shy of 100 as a skipper. ... Deja vu, perhaps? Even though the Sox came into Thursday off to an 8-12 mark, there's no need to panic: after going 17-21 to start last season, the White Sox went on to win 13 of their next 14 games.