John Danks went from not knowing How to Win to being the only pitcher the offense deems worthy of support.
The White Sox posted eight runs once again for Danks, which was more than enough for another better-than-quality start. The combination of the two brought a four-game skid to an end, and against baseball's best team to boot.
OK, the Giants gave the Sox offense a push over the hump, but they helped a team that helped themselves before and after during the middle innings.
The Sox showed signs of life in the third when Gordon Beckham tied the game at 2 with his fifth homer of the year. One inning later, the Sox loaded the bases on three singles with one out. Alejandro De Aza popped up the first pitch to jeopardize the rally, but Tyler Flowers (of all people) took an inside fastball from Matt Cain on a full count to walk a run home.
That gave the Sox the lead for the first time in 41 innings ... or last Wednesday ... or since Danks last pitched ... and they weren't done. Adam Eaton followed by hitting a soft bouncer to short. It had "infield single" written all over it, but shortstop Brandon Crawford turned it into more by throwing wide of a stoic Mike Morse. The error brought another run in, and the Sox led 5-2.
They needed no such generosity in a three-run fifth. Adam Dunn singled home Conor Gillaspie, and Dayan Viciedo drove in Dunn with a 426-foot Tank last to right on a wayward changeup.
The Sox shellacked Cain for eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits over five innings, but if there was one regret, they couldn't get a good look at the bullpen despite the abbreviated start. Yusmeiro Petit retired all nine men he faced, striking out three.
In fact, the Sox used two more relievers than the Giants, even though Danks lasted four outs longer than his counterpart. Robin Ventura deployed a conservative hook, lifting him after 6⅓ innings. Not that it was wrong -- the inning started with a walk and a well-struck lineout to right -- but Danks had thrown just 97 pitches. That's the second straight outing in which Danks threw fewer than 100 pitches, which is the kind of luxury that big leads afford.
Danks pitched like he has -- getting the results that aesthetics don't quite match. Hunter Pence jumped on a decent first-pitch fastball for a solo homer, giving the Giants a 1-0 lead two batters into the game. In the third, they used an Alexei Ramirez error to their advantage when a grounder to his right clanked off his glove, spoiling a fielder's choice that would've kept a runner out of scoring position.
He took the damage well, posting shutdown innings after each of the Sox' three consecutive crooked numbers, and now he has a couple of welcome numbers to show for it -- a record over .500 (6-5), and an ERA under 4.00 (3.97).
*The strong arm of Beckham turned a really tough double play, as Ramirez slipped before making the throw and gave Pence a chance to deliver a takeout slide. Beckham stood in there, took the hit and turned two on Buster Posey.
*Beckham's homer cashed in Eaton, who was in scoring position, for those who are keeping track.
*Jose Abreu received a talking-to from Mark Parent after not running on a third strike that bounced back toward the screen.