CHICAGO -- A deflating homestand finally took a turn for the better for the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Thanks to another good home outing by starter John Danks and a late offensive outburst, the White Sox snapped a five-game losing streak by ending the Baltimore Orioles' four-game winning streak with a 5-2 victory in the opener of a three-game series.
"We've had some tough nights here the last few and to be able to go through it and get some clutch hitting ... it's a nice night," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
The losing streak was bad enough, but the bigger picture was even more bleak for Chicago coming into the game. Not only were the Sox (33-47) mired in last place in the American League Central, but they also were 15 games under .500 for the first time since 2007, and that far under the break-even mark before the All Star break for the first time since 2001.
Chicago also lost 23 of its previous 31 games and carried a 1-5 record on the current 10-game homestand into this series. In short, the Sox were due for a win. Now it's a matter of turning it into something bigger.
"We know how good we are," said Danks (2-5), who paved the way by going seven-plus innings and allowing two runs. "We know we've got a (heck) of a road ahead of us. We did it to ourselves, but at the same time we know how capable we are of going on a run. We just hope that we're able to do it starting now."
If they don't get something going soon, even the Sox know what lies ahead in the not-too-distant future. The trade deadline is coming up at the end of the month and Chicago general manager Rick Hahn might have to start selling off parts of his team for talented prospects.
It's up to the Sox to prevent that from happening.
"We know we're running out of time and we've just got to win ballgames," Danks said. "That's all we can worry about. We hear what everyone's saying, but we're not worried about that. We're going to keep playing until someone tells us to stop."
Danks' strong outing was his second in a row and first win since June 8 at home against the Oakland Athletics. It also continued his trend of pitching well at home. In four starts at home since coming off the disabled list while recovering from shoulder surgery, Danks is 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA. In four road starts since then, he's 0-4 with a 7.29 ERA, including nine home runs allowed in just 21 innings.
Adam Dunn and Conor Gillaspie each hit home runs to lead the way offensively, with Dunn's majestic two-run blast to right field off Orioles starter Jason Hammel capping a three-run seventh inning. The ball traveled an estimated 427 feet, but more important, it turned a tight game into a 5-1 Sox lead.
An inning earlier, Gillaspie hit a solo shot with one out to break a 1-1 tie and put Danks in line for the win.
Baltimore got one back in the eighth on an RBI single with two outs by Adam Jones, but the Chicago bullpen preserved the lead and Danks' win. Addison Reed pitched a scoreless ninth for his 22nd save.
The White Sox got two hits each from Alexei Ramirez and Gillaspie plus a three-hit performance from second baseman Gordon Beckham. Brian Roberts drove in Baltimore's only other run with a solo homer to left off Danks in the third.
Hammel (7-5) took the loss by allowing five runs in seven innings. He gave up nine hits and one walk while striking out seven, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter was pleased with his starter's outing overall.
"We just didn't score any runs tonight," Showalter said. "That's what some people will remember, but I look at how he pitched up until that home run to Dunn there. I thought he pitched well enough to win tonight."
NOTES: The White Sox announced the hiring of former slugger Jim Thome as special assistant to GM Rick Hahn. Thome, who lives in nearby Burr Ridge, Ill., will consult with Hahn and assistant general manager Buddy Bell. He will also work with players on the Sox and in the team's minor league system, evaluating performance. ... Chicago got Paul Konerko back in the starting lineup as the designated hitter after lower back stiffness caused him to miss the previous six games. He went 0-for-4. ... Dunn's home run was the 428th of his career, which moved him past Mike Piazza (427) into sole possession of 45th place on the all-time list, one behind Konerko. ... Baltimore dealt RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Pedro Strop and two international signing bonus slots to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for RHP Scott Feldman and C Steve Clevenger. The 30-year old Feldman, who went 7-6 with a 3.46 ERA in his lone season for the Cubs, will get the start Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field against LHP Hector Santiago. Clevenger was immediately assigned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for the return of LF Nolan Reimold (hamstring) from the disabled list. The Orioles will have to make another roster move to make room for Feldman, once he's placed on the roster Wednesday.