CHICAGO -- The Crosstown Cup has returned to the South Side by virtue of the White Sox 8-3 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field and a third straight dominant performance over their North Side rivals.
To be honest, this piece of hardware isn't nearly as important as the quality of baseball being played by the White Sox (18-17) with far less than the full complement of their everyday players.
"That's great and all," said White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham of the Cup-clinching win. "But it feels weird going to hold a trophy in the beginning of May.
"As players, we aren't taking a lot of stock in that. We are going out and playing. If we win a trophy for winning a series, then so be it."
Beckham stood out as one of the major contributors during the team's fourth straight win. The game was tied at 1 in the fourth when Beckham connected on a 1-0 slider from Travis Wood (2-4) and knocked out his second homer of the season and his second in two games.
This drive to left gave Beckham six homers and 16 RBIs over 26 career games against the Cubs. It also picked up teammate Marcus Semien, who was picked off first base by catcher Welington Castillo one batter earlier.
"Beck had his big homer, he's been swinging it pretty good," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I think power-wise it's a nice time to have it come."
"They put some swings on some pretty good pitches," Wood said. "Beckham made me pay when I left one up."
Wednesday's victory received additional boosts from other White Sox veterans.
John Danks (3-2) struck out a season-high eight and limited the Cubs to three runs on four hits over six innings. He thwarted a rally with runners on second and third and one out in the fifth by fanning Junior Lake off a wild swing on a changeup and then getting Anthony Rizzo looking on two changeups that appeared to be just out of the zone. His slick work kept the White Sox ahead by a 4-3 margin.
"We score three in the bottom half of the inning and go back out there and flirt with giving it right back, so yeah, it was good," said Danks of his escape act. "I was able to make some pitches and work my way out of it. I certainly don't want to give those runs back."
"He does a nice job of getting through Lake and then with Rizzo, he makes some pitches and you get out of that," Ventura said. "You get some momentum going back into your dugout, start swinging the bats."
Paul Konerko delivered the knockout punch, literally and figuratively with a bases-clearing double that chased Wood from the game in the fifth. His shot down the left-field line scored Jose Abreu, who had two doubles and a single, Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez.
Konerko is hitting .300 lifetime against the Cubs and .298 lifetime against left-handed pitchers. He also ranks second all-time with 174 RBIs in Interleague games. And when Konerko connects, even in his limited playing time, it serves as an extra lift for the entire team.
"Huge. I was top step. Proud of dad," said Beckham with a smile on his mentor. "He hasn't had as much playing time. But he knew what he signed up for and him coming through like that is a product of being around a bunch of guys that want each other to do well and are pulling for each other."
"I thought the whole lineup, up and down, had a really good approach at the plate and we stuck with it. We took our walks," Konerko said. "He likes to pitch inside a lot and guys were getting inside and hitting the ball to center field. That just led to a lot of god things. It was fun for me. It was good to get out there and help the team. That's how you draw it up."
Jake Petricka and Maikel Cleto combined to throw three hitless innings, dropping the White Sox bullpen ERA to 0.48 over the last 11 games and 1.47 since April 20. Cleto got a boost from Ramirez's spectacular back-to-the-infield running catch on a Castillo popup, which he turned into a double play with a strike to first to nail Starlin Castro.
It was one year ago when a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cubs (11-21) started the White Sox on a downward spiral that would reach 99 losses before completed. The Cubs won one more game in July for good measure.
Now, the White Sox have a chance for their own four-game whitewash. It's a chance to give the fan base another boost of pride, even with less intensity in this rivalry.
"Listen, Cubs-Sox, it's always great; there's no way it's not," Konerko said. "Is it what it was 10 years ago? It doesn't feel like it. But it's better than losing three out of four or the series.
"When I got to this team, winning this season series was just about as important if not more important than making the playoffs for some reason. It was ingrained in me early on that this was a big deal for our fans. Our fans care a lot about how we do against the Cubs. I would venture to say more than their fans care about how they do against us. I've never taken that lightly. I've known that from the beginning, so I've always tried to show up in these games and do well."