White Sox 6, Devil Rays 1
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—For the first time in a more than a month, the White Sox have a winning streak.
“It’s a great feeling,” manager Ozzie Guillen said after Andy Gonzalez and Jim Thome homered to back Jon Garland’s strong pitching and lead Chicago to a 6-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Tuesday night.
“I told a couple of guys I’m starting to get used to winning now. It’s a great feeling after the tough two months we went through. We were fighting without results. Now we’re starting to get a little bit better.”
The White Sox, who had dropped 22 of 28 before Tuesday night, have won two straight for the first time since winning three in a row against the Cubs and Athletics from May 20-22. In the wake of the tailspin, general manager Ken Williams said roster changes were likely.
“They understand that. They’re not kids. They know how this business runs,” Guillen said. “I hope they start playing better. We could keep this group together and see if we can make a run and make this thing a little bit exciting.”
Gonzalez, who had four hits and drove in two runs to help the White Sox stop a season-worst five-game losing streak Monday night, hit his first career homer — a two-run shot off James Shields in the fifth inning.
Two pitches later, Thome hit the 482nd of his career for a 5-0 lead. Gonzalez also drove in a run in the third with an RBI grounder.
“Yesterday I had four hits. Today it’s a home run the other way. I’m feeling good at the plate,” said Gonzalez, a rookie who had one RBI in 15 games before this series. “I’m enjoying it, too. There’s more to come.”
Garland (5-5) allowed three singles, a double and Greg Norton’s home run in seven-plus innings. The right-hander walked two and struck out three, including Akinori Iwamura with the bases loaded to escape a jam in the seventh.
“He made pitches when he had to,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Shields (6-3) won his first six decisions, but has dropped the past three while allowing 25 hits and 16 runs in 18 innings against the Rockies, Diamondbacks and White Sox. The right-hander yielded nine hits and five runs in seven innings.
A night after striking out 15 times during a 5-4 victory over the Devil Rays, the White Sox fanned 11 times against Shields.
When Devil Rays pitchers strike out 10 or more at home, fans are able to exchange ticket stubs for coupons for free pizza, prompting Guillen to declare after Monday’s series opener: “If we played here more often there would be more fat people eating free pizza.”
The White Sox have struck out 56 times in their last five games.
“I’m going to buy me a ticket tomorrow, just in case,” Guillen joked. “I need to start feeling bad for the people who make those pizzas. They might go out of business.”
Juan Uribe tripled and scored on Gonzalez’s grounder to shortstop in the third. The White Sox strung together six straight hits, including the homers by Gonzalez and Thome, to break open the game in the fifth.
“I don’t think I was focusing like I should have been. … With this team, they’re a bunch of free swingers and everyone on that team can hit a home run at any time,” Shields said. “When you lose focus, it will hurt you.”
Norton homered off Garland in the fifth. The Devil Rays loaded the bases when the Chicago starter hit Josh Wilson with a pitch in the eighth, but Iwamura struck out to end the threat.
Uribe’s triple was Chicago’s first since April 27, a stretch of 52 games. … White Sox OF Jermaine Dye missed his fourth straight game with a strained left quadriceps. He took batting practice, though, and could return to the lineup by the weekend. … Shields has allowed 18 homers, nine in his past five starts. … Garland had not allowed a home run on the road until Norton’s solo shot. Overall, he’s given up seven in 104 1-3 innings. … Devil Rays OF Delmon Young extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a seventh-inning infield single.