Total team effort takes down rivals
Danks strikes out nine, walks none; Ramirez homers
CHICAGO -- The large and vocal showing of White Sox fans rose to its feet in the ninth inning of Wednesday's Crosstown Showdown at Wrigley Field, when Geovany Soto stepped into the batter's box as the North Siders' last sign of hope.
This was a complete team effort turned in by the White Sox (31-34), the type that manager Ozzie Guillen has been talking about and searching for since the beginning of the 2009 season, but hasn't watched near frequently enough.
There was great pitching, supported by almost airtight defense. And while the scoring started for the White Sox on Alexei Ramirez's sixth home run coming in the first inning off of Ryan Dempster (4-4), it was the baseball intangibles that really made the difference.
A hit-and-run. A perfectly executed squeeze bunt by Scott Podsednik. Young guys at the bottom of the order, such as Chris Getz and Gordon Beckham, producing on the biggest stage they will face outside of the playoffs. This effort all added up to the White Sox third straight win, their eighth win in their last 10 road games and their fourth consecutive victory over the Cubs (30-31), dating back to a three-game sweep at U.S. Cellular last year.
"We started the right way," said Guillen of Wednesday's victory. "After that, we did a lot of different things that worked out for us."
"When we hit, pitch the ball and catch the ball, you usually do well," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "We did a lot of things right today."
All of this "small ball" action took a back seat on Wednesday to Danks (5-5). The left-hander posted his seventh quality start, although this one would be of the high-quality variety, allowing one run on five hits over seven-plus innings.
Danks struck out nine, the highest total from a White Sox starter against the Cubs since Interleague Play began in 1997, and didn't issue a single walk. He also pitched out of trouble on two separate occasions, with the White Sox nursing just a 2-0 lead at the time.
In the second, Derrek Lee singled and Soto reached on Beckham's fielding error to open the frame. But Reed Johnson gave Beckham a shot at redemption, with the rookie turning his grounder into an around-the-horn double play, and Mike Fontenot then grounded out to end the frame.
Singles from Ryan Theriot and Milton Bradley put runners on first and third with nobody out in the fourth. But Anderson made a slick running catch on Lee's fly ball to center, while holding Theriot at third, Soto struck out swinging and Johnson grounded out to Beckham.
Four baserunners in two innings, no runs for the Cubs.
"That got them," said Guillen of keeping the Cubs scoreless through the two rallies. "They thought they were going to score a couple of runs and they couldn't. We got our second wind and played better after that."
"With the amount of strikes I threw and no walks, that's huge," said Danks, who threw 71 of his 99 pitches for strikes, while lowering his ERA to 4.48. "That's been kind of the burr in my boot, as they say back home. It was huge to go out and throw strikes and make them put the ball in play."
Getz tripled home Anderson with one out in the second for the White Sox second run. Pierzynski's sacrifice fly in the eighth, following Paul Konerko's hit-and-run single to right, scored pinch-runner Dewayne Wise for the White Sox final run.
Between the two tallies, Podsednik dropped down a squeeze against reliever Angel Guzman to score Getz in the seventh. Getz and Beckham both drew walks off of Dempster to start the inning, and Podsednik's bunt actually went for a base hit.
"I was so antsy, so excited we actually called a squeeze and I'm involved," said a smiling Getz, who was halfway home before Podsednik made contact. "Stuff like that is fun."
"Ozzie told me to be ready for it and continue to look for it," said Podsednik of the bunt. "It's just a matter of executing. He calls it up and I have to go out there and try to execute and that's what we kind of haven't been doing in previous serious, situational hitting, so it was nice to execute a couple of runs."
Carlos Zambrano and Gavin Floyd take the mound on Thursday afternoon, with the White Sox looking for a rain-abbreviated, two-game series sweep before moving on to Cincinnati. Taking part in the second game of this intense rivalry should be a little easier for players such as Beckham and Getz, although like the rest of the White Sox on Wednesday, the pair earned rave reviews.
"Just awesome," said Beckham of being part of the Cubs-White Sox rivalry. "I mean Wrigley Field, I've been watching games here since I was 5 years old. WGN is on in Atlanta, too. It was special to step in the box."
"I told [Beckham] that now he's in the big leagues," Pierzynski said. "He was in the Minors before, but this [series] gets you to the big leagues."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.