CHICAGO -- Just hours after using all of their relievers in a 14-inning loss, a two-hit shutout in which they didn't allow a single Nationals runner to reach third base would seem to be an ideal result for the White Sox.
But Saturday's 3-0 victory isn't exactly what manager Ozzie Guillen had in mind.
Guillen was forced to go back to his bullpen after just 1 2/3 innings when starter John Danks left the game with a strained right oblique. But the White Sox pitching staff combined for the shutout behind a gutsy performance from Brian Bruney, a dominant first Major League relief appearance by Jake Peavy and a three-up, three-down ninth inning by Sergio Santos.
"I think Peavy jinxed it," Guillen said. "He went to my office before the game and said, '[If] you need me, I'll be available.' I said, '[If] we need you, we're in trouble.' Well sometimes you've got to be careful what you say. All these games I've been managing in my career, I think this one I'm not going to forget.
Working on two days' rest after his first start since returning from the disabled list with a strained groin, Peavy struck out seven batters over four innings of one-hit ball in his first relief appearance since he was with the Padres' Class A Fort Wayne affiliate in 2000. Needless to say, Nationals interim manager John McLaren said the team was caught off guard by the White Sox using Peavy, whose previous 238 big league appearances had all been starts.
"I didn't see Peavy's name on that list. I'm going to talk to that Ozzie Guillen about that tomorrow," McLaren joked. "They have six starters. They can do that. They were forced into a piggy back. It was a pretty good piggy back."
"I don't want to make a big deal of it," Peavy said. "I needed to do it for my team. That's the bottom line. We had to find a way to win the game, and give us a chance to win the series tomorrow."
The outing was drastically different from Peavy's start on Wednesday, when he lasted 5 1/3 innings, walked three and gave up seven hits before exchanging words with his own catcher while exiting the game. On Saturday, he was just happy he had "better stuff" and could help pick up Danks.
"Obviously, I've been where he's at, more than I would like," said Peavy, who has made just six starts this season, which has been interrupted by two separate stints on the DL. "He's bumming out, no doubt about it, but he's going to be OK."
Despite the overpowering display from Peavy, it was Bruney's performance that allowed Peavy enough time to loosen up and prepare to come in the game. Bruney, who gave up a two-run homer in one inning on work on Friday night, pitched another 2 1/3 innings on Saturday. He allowed one hit and one walk, preserving the White Sox 1-0 lead, which came on a Carlos Quentin sacrifice fly in the first inning.
"I think we stretched Bruney a little bit more because I didn't want to bring Peavy in the middle of the inning," Guillen said. "And I think Bruney did a tremendous job to try to hold those guys out there."
Along with Danks' 1 2/3 hitless innings and Santos' 1-2-3 ninth, Bruney and Peavy combined to allow only four Nationals baserunners, none of which reached as far as third base, with only two advancing to second.
The closest the Nationals came to threatening against Peavy was in the sixth inning when Ian Desmond singled with two outs and then advanced to second on an errant pick-off throw. Peavy then struck out Ryan Zimmerman on his way to retiring the final seven batters he faced, including five by strikeout.
"I knew I could just take my tank to empty," Peavy said. "When you start a game, you kind of feel your way through it and you pace yourself. It's a completely different mindset coming out of the bullpen, and I enjoyed it."
The only thing that stopped Peavy from finishing the game in the ninth inning was the White Sox finally coming through offensively with runners in scoring position. Clinging to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the eighth, Alex Rios beat out an infield single to load the bases before Ramon Castro singled home two insurance runs on a blooper to right field.
The singles by Rios and Castro were the South Siders' only hits with runners in scoring position as they finished the day 2-for-9 in those situations and stranded 10 runners.
"[Peavy] would have finished the game if we hadn't scored the two runs," Guillen said. "He would have come back out because I wanted to give Santos a day off, but then the inning was a little bit too long and then we get a three-run lead and I don't want to take any chance with that."
While there was a shortage of arms available in his bullpen, Guillen said he certainly wasn't short on options once Danks went down. Not only had Peavy volunteered himself to pitch, but Mark Buehrle and Gavin Floyd, who pitched an inning of relief in a 14-inning game on May 28, also said they were ready to go if needed.
"This shows resiliency and this shows fight," Peavy said. "This shows character and heart. That's what we want to pride ourselves on and be a collective unit and obviously it took all 25 of us to win today."
With the win, the White Sox improved to 38-40 and -- coupled with the Indians' loss on Saturday -- cut their division deficit to 3 1/2 games. The win also allows the White Sox to try for their 18th consecutive Interleague series victory on Sunday.
Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.