Nix backs Floyd as White Sox drop A's
Thome punctuates victory with benchmark homer in ninth
OAKLAND -- Jayson Nix's third-inning home run launched the Chicago offense on Saturday afternoon, but it was Jim Thome who brought down the house.Nix hit a home run and drove in three runs, Thome matched Reggie Jackson on the all-time home run list and Gavin Floyd pitched seven strong innings as the White Sox beat the Oakland Athletics, 8-1. The White Sox have been offensively challenged for the past week, but that may be changing, as everybody in Chicago's lineup reached base. "We have so many approaches to hitting and pitching that we've become a well-rounded team," Floyd said. "We can play short ball, and we have guys who can hit long home runs." Floyd (10-7) is also an example of how well-rounded the White Sox have become. He picked up his fourth win in his past five decisions after giving up one run on eight hits. He walked two and struck out eight. He's allowed only one earned run in four of his past five starts. "The starters have done a tremendous job," Thome said. "It seems like the starters complement the bullpen, and the bullpen complements the starting pitching. The bottom line is we want to stay healthy. The unique thing is we still have a guy in [Jake] Peavy that's coming. This organization has put this club in a situation to compete for a title, and that's a special thing." Floyd loves pitching under the afternoon sun. He's 15-4 with a 3.52 ERA in 26 day games since 2006. "It's big for me to get a tempo," Floyd said. "I struggled with that in the bullpen, but eventually I did get a nice tempo going and I felt like things were in the right place." Gordon Beckham had two hits and drove in two runs, and Jermaine Dye and Alexei Ramirez also drove in runs as the White Sox won for the third time in four games. "Floyd is a tough guy to hit and the main thing is he found the strike zone early in the count," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That makes his breaking ball work. His teammates gave him a little bit of a cushion by scoring some early runs." The victory puts Chicago in line for its first series sweep in Oakland in 12 years as the White Sox continued to keep the pressure on the American League Central-leading Detroit Tigers. "For the last four years, we've come in here and haven't played very well at all," Thome said. "So, yeah, it would be great to get a sweep. A sweep would be special for sure." The White Sox have a four-game winning streak against the A's in Oakland, a first since a five-game run in 1997. "Every time we've come here, something happens and we don't play well," Guillen said. "These first two games were huge for us, considering the way we started the road trip. It could have gotten ugly. A sweep would make it a nice flight home." Scott Linebrink and Randy Williams each pitched an inning in relief of Floyd, extending the bullpen's scoreless streak to eight frames. The bullpen has recorded a 2.06 ERA over its last 22 games. Nix gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Ramirez singled home a run and Nix added a sacrifice fly in the fourth to make it 4-0. After the A's made it 4-1 in the fourth, Chicago broke it open with three runs in the sixth. Beckham delivered a two-run single, and Dye singled home another run. Dye entered the Oakland series in a 1-for-18 slump. In the first two games, he hit .444 (4-for-9 with four RBIs). A.J. Pierzynski also had two hits and scored twice.
Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.