A couple weeks off did Phil Humber some good.
Making his first start since a line drive to the forehead knocked him out of the game on Aug. 18, Humber tossed seven shutout innings with the same formula that made him a first-half sensation: lots of strikes, lots of 0-1 counts and a little bit of good luck.
He scattered six singles without a walk, throwing 71 of 100 pitches for strikes, and throwing first-pitch strikes to 20 of 27 hitters. His breaking stuff looked a little sharper than it had in previous starts, burying curves and sliders down and in on left-handed hitters to finish them off.
And true to form, Humber didn't receive much in the way of run support. Yet he made two runs hold up, and it felt like a larger cushion until Sergio Santos turned the ninth inning into an adventure.
Santos came on after Matt Thornton recorded the first out, and started his day by walking the leadoff man. A grounder got under Paul Konerko's mitt (not a great effort) to put runners on the corners, and Luke Hughes followed by smashing a liner to left. Juan Pierre was able to hang with it, diving forward to keep the ball out of the sun and making a huge catch. The run scored from third, but it was 2-1 with two outs, and a runner still on first.
Ron Gardenhire called for .187-hitting Rene Tosoni. Ozzie Guillen countered with Chris Sale. Gardenhire went with Jason Repko. It didn't matter, as Sale struck out Repko with a high fastball to end the first half of the doubleheader, as well as the four-game skid.
Once again, Anthony Swarzak had the misfortune of pitching a fine game, but not throwing well enough to match his opponent. The Sox touched him up for single runs in the second (A.J. Pierzynski doubled and scored on a fielder's choice) and third (Juan Pierre singled and scored on Alexei Ramirez's double).
Otherwise, the Sox only had seven hits on the day. Throw in a double play and a 1-for-3 performance on the basepaths, and they only stranded three runners on the day.
*The infield defense seems to be in a rut, beyond Konerko's sluggish reaction in the ninth. Ramirez committed his 16th error of the year by throwing the ball well wide of first. Gordon Beckham pulled Konerko off the bag on a rather routine double play toss.
*A.J. Pierzynski could've had a three-double game, but he was robbed twice -- a nice diving stab by Hughes on a shot down the line, and a running catch by Michael Cuddyer.