CHICAGO -- The weather outside U.S. Cellular Field after Sunday's 8-3 victory for the White Sox over the Dodgers looked as if it was about to get frightful, with lightning even crackling clearly in the distance at the end of the seventh inning.
But with the game-time temperature listed at a somewhat humid 86 degrees, with the wind blowing out at 19 mph, the conditions were delightful for White Sox hitters.
Alexei Ramirez matched career highs by knocking out four hits and driving in five runs -- including a two-run homer -- and A.J. Pierzynski also went deep as the White Sox improved to 145-105 all-time in Interleague Play and 78-46 at home against the National League. The White Sox have a 20-4 record in their last 24 Interleague contests and have won 15 consecutive Interleague series, with the last loss coming against the Cubs from June 20-22, 2008.
More important, this latest victory pushed the White Sox to 22-26 overall. That record indicates the closest Ozzie Guillen's crew has been to .500 since ending April 22 at 8-12.
Yes, they remain in fourth place in the American League Central, sitting nine games behind the red-hot Indians (29-15) and 11 in the loss column. Yet, their five series wins and one split over the last six show the White Sox are making slow but steady progress in pursuit of the division's top spot.
"We're doing it right," said White Sox captain Paul Konerko, who picked up RBI No. 36 with a sacrifice fly during a two-run fourth. "We're not thinking about the standings, thinking about the record, just kind of playing each day for what it is."
"It's just a matter of time before we keep this going," said White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, who added one hit and three runs. "It's starting to go our way. I don't really know how to describe it, but we definitely have a little bit of momentum."
Hiroki Kuroda (5-4) entered the series finale with a 2.80 ERA, but the White Sox topped that stingy regular total allowed by the Dodgers starter in the first inning alone. Juan Pierre (3-for-4, two runs) opened with a single to center, and Ramirez began his assault on Dodgers pitching with his sixth home run to left on a 1-2 pitch.
Ramirez doubled home a run in the second and singled home another run in the fourth. He drove home Beckham as part of a two-run eighth with a double to right-center and admitted thinking about the triple when the ball left the bat.
"I was kind of saying it in my head, hopefully the guy doesn't cut it off," said Ramirez, through a translator, of his last at-bat line drive cut off in the gap by right fielder Tony Gwynn. "He ended up cutting it off and that's when I knew it wouldn't be a triple."
"Since the beginning, I didn't have my slider today, so I was mislocating my pitches," Kuroda said, through a translator, after yielding four earned runs on nine hits over 5 2/3 innings. "That was probably the problem. My sinker didn't have much movement either, so everything was on the plate."
Pierzynski's first-pitch home run coming two outs after Ramirez marked the catcher's first long ball since April 29 and the final run of the first inning. The six runs of support came behind Edwin Jackson (4-5), who had no runs of support in five of his last six starts, but eight runs of support in that sixth.
Jackson dominated the Dodgers (21-27) for four innings, allowing just two hits and three baserunners. He needed 45 pitches to get through the next 1 2/3 innings, before Guillen brought in Chris Sale with two on and two outs in the sixth. Jackson knew his day was done when Guillen came to the mound, but looked less than thrilled when he reached the dugout.
Any sort of anger on Jackson's part was directed inward.
"Maybe at myself, especially not making them put the ball in play, when I'd been doing a pretty good job of it the whole day," said Jackson, who struck out seven and walked two, while throwing 68 of his 107 pitches for strikes. "I'm my own worst critic, I'm probably harder on myself than any coach, analyst, or commentator out there. I'm always a competitor and I always want to leave on my own terms."
Sale loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh, as the Dodgers eventually scored two runs. The Dodgers never got any closer than the three-run deficit, thanks to three innings of scoreless relief from Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton (second save), losing for the 11th time in 15 games against the White Sox.
This seven-game homestand finished at 5-2 for the White Sox, including a two-game sweep of the Indians. Their 29 runs scored in the last four games indicates the White Sox offense is warming up, and with just nine games to be played outside of Chicago starting June 3, the White Sox might be heating up at the same time as the local weather.
"Hopefully that [11-22 start] is behind us now, and it's starting to come together," Konerko said. "We're not where we want to be for sure, but we've still got four months to be where we want to be."
"Our team is a good team, and I feel that it's not even about getting to .500," Ramirez said. "We have to have confidence in ourselves and just keep playing the way we are playing and we'll get there."