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White Sox 4, Rays 3: Sox survive missed opportunities, win 8th straight

Robin Ventura wasn't around to see Addison Reed close the door for the Sox 8th win in a row today after getting his first ejection in the 4th inning.   Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Robin Ventura wasn't around to see Addison Reed close the door for the Sox 8th win in a row today after getting his first ejection in the 4th inning. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

This game had all the makings of a bad loss. Instead, the White Sox turned it into a good win. There were missed opportunities, bad umpiring and a ninth inning threat, but in the end the Sox completed the sweep to move to 29-22. With the Indians loss to the Royals earlier today, the Sox are now 1.5 games ahead in the A.L. Central.

The Sox jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead on Alex Cobb. Gordon Beckham got hit with a pitch. After Adam Dunn struck out, Paul Konerko singled. Alex Rios followed with a single of his own to plate Beckham.

In the 2nd, it looked like the Sox were about to bust things open. Dayan Viciedo singled to lead it off. Alexei Ramirez doubled to make it 2nd and 3rd. Orlando Hudson followed with a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Unfortunately, Alejandro De Aza would bounce to third and Drew Sutton fired home for one out. Beckham then struck out and Dunn flew weakly to center to strand the bases loaded.

The Rays briefly took the momentum in the bottom of the inning when Luke Scott hit an opposite field homer to tie the game, but the Sox answered right back in the top of the third. Alex Rios hit a one out double and A.J. Pierzynski was plunked on the first pitch to put men on 1st and 2nd. Viciedo smashed a single to right to score Rios and move Pierzynski into third. Ramirez followed with a fly ball to right. A.J. tagged and slid in right in front of the tag to make it 3-1 Sox.

With two outs in the fourth inning, and starter Jose Quintana cruising along, the Sox sought retribution for A.J.'s plunking. If you recall yesterday, Pierzynski slid in late and spiked Ben Zobrist which seemingly led them to drill the catcher in the upper back today. Quintana fired behind Zobrist and was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Mark Wegner. There were no warnings prior to the pitch. Robin Ventura came out and received his first ejection of his managerial career after a lengthy argument. Nate Jones was called upon and retired Zobrist with fly out to right.

On the day, Quintana was impressive yet again. He retired 11 of the 12 batters he faced, with Scott's homer as the only blemish.

In the top of the 5th, the Sox would make the score 4-1 on back to back doubles by Viciedo and Ramirez.

De Aza reached on a lead off walk in the 6th and promptly stole 2nd. Pitcher J.P. Howell then tried to pick him off and drilled him right in his knee, leading to an early departure for the center fielder. Brent Lillibridge pinch ran and on the first pitch the ball bounced away from catcher Jose Molina. Lillibridge took off and was gunned down at third.

In the bottom of the 6th, the Rays finally got to Jones. Molina led off with a single, and after a Hideki Matsui strike out, Carlos Pena smoked one into the right field seats to make the score 4-3.

The Sox had another golden opportunity to put some insurance on the board in the 9th. Lillibridge led off with an infield single. Beckham followed with a bunt that Carlos Pena couldn't make a play on. Personally, I thought it was an error, but they called it a base hit. With two on and nobody out and the heart of the lineup coming up, it looked like good things were going to happen. Unfortunately, Dunn went down on strikes, Konerko popped to short and Rios flew to right to end the inning.

With a couple of power lefties coming up in the ninth, Addison Reed was brought on to close things out. Pena drew a leadoff walk. After a B.J. Upton pop up, Matt Joyce ripped a single to right to put runners on first and second. Zobrist popped out to Ramirez for the 2nd out and Scott did the same to end the game and keep the streak moving.

WP: Nate Jones (3-0)

LP: Alex Cobb (2-1)

S: Addison Reed (6)

HR: Luke Scott (9), Carlos Pena (8)

* The White Sox bullpen did an outstanding job, only allowing the 2 run homer to Pena in 5 1/3 innings. Jones, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and Reed all were fantastic. Fortunately, the Sox have a day off tomorrow and Monday so the premature ejection shouldn't hurt that badly.

* Viciedo was 3-4 on the day and currently sports a nifty .291 batting average.

* Ramirez was 2-3 with a sac fly and has his average up to .228.

* Adam Dunn was 0-5 and received the golden sombrero with 4 strikeouts.

* Paul Konerko was 2-13 in the series and looked absolutely terrible at the plate, which makes sweeping the series even that more impressive.

* The Sox failed to take one deep today, snapping a 15 game homer streak.

* Jake Peavy will face off against Felix Hernandez on Friday night as the Sox look to win their 9th in a row.

Record: 29-22 | Box