Torrid run making believers out of White Sox
Club wins sixth straight behind Buehrle's arm, A.J.'s bat
CHICAGO -- The White Sox are streaking yet again, having extended their current win streak to six games by taking a convincing 8-2 win against the Kansas City Royals at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday.
This is the second extended run the White Sox have gone on, coupled with their 11-game streak that tied for fifth-longest in franchise history. In all, the White Sox have won a scalding 23 of their last 28 contests.
They have played so well that -- despite the team's insistence that it knew it had the talent to win -- it is even starting to surprise them.
"We're starting to believe it," White Sox starter Mark Buehrle said. "I think if we would have said we were going to win that quick and be back in it as quick as we did, I don't think anybody would have believed us. We just want to keep on going."
Friday's game was a microcosm of the team's play in that time period -- they got great pitching from the starter, Buehrle, and timely hitting in earning the win.
The southpaw Buehrle threw seven scoreless innings, settling down after a rough 28-pitch first inning to hold the Royals.
"It was vintage Buehrle," ex-White Sox leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik said. "He didn't walk anybody and stayed away from the big inning. We got a couple of hits here and there but we just couldn't get anything going against him. He was sharp."
Buehrle danced in and out of trouble, stranding eight Royals on base in his seven innings while only striking out two.
"I just had to make pitches," Buehrle said. "Every inning guys were getting on base. I was making good pitches and they were putting them in play. Walked a guy and pitched around a guy. It was just one of those things."
Buehrle is 5-1 with a 2.23 ERA in his last six starts, as he also made his sixth consecutive quality start.
The offense came through with runners on base, as well. To lead off the second inning, both Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin smashed singles, and then in stepped the man who is chasing after his 400th home run in his illustrious career.
Andruw Jones looked like he had hit it, as he smashed a 2-0 Bruce Chen breaking ball on a line, but the ball hit the middle of the wall, good enough for a two-run single.
"I kind of thought about it," said Jones of the drive being home run 400. "I think it was a changeup and I topspinned it a little more than I needed to."
Jones went 3-for-4 on the evening and it seemed as if three of the balls he hit in play threatened to leave the ballpark.
"When you're used to playing every day it's going to be hard not getting consistent at-bats all the time," Jones said. "I know my role, when I came here what I was supposed to do. I've just got to take advantage of the chance to play and take advantage of the opportunity."
The big offensive hero of the evening, however, was A.J. Pierzynski, who homered in both the fourth and eighth innings to drive in four runs, for his third career multi-home run game. Those four runs helped make what was otherwise a close game into a laugher.
"Those two guys need it badly, especially A.J.," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "A.J. has been struggling for the last couple of weeks and has started to swing the bat better. We need Andruw because from now on we're going to start to face a lot of lefties. We need him to get hot. Hopefully, maybe with the playing time last week, he played four games in a row. Hopefully that helped and he will continue to do that."
Pierzynski's solo home run in the fourth knocked out Chen (5-2) after just 3 1/3 innings, as the Royals starter had been battling a cold.
"Bruce didn't have it tonight," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "After his last start, Bruce got strep throat and was battling that. He felt better yesterday, but when he went back out, there was not much life left on his fastball. We were just going to go with him as long as we could after he gave up the two runs. When the home run made it three, we decided that was enough."
Jeffrey Marquez made his Major League debut, giving up two runs in the ninth on a home run by Yuniesky Betancourt, which broke a team-wide streak of 18 consecutive innings without giving up a run.
During their stretch, the Sox have made up nine games on the first-place spot. Since June 9, Chicago has gained an astounding 10 games on the Twins -- who have self-destructed in the last month -- and now only trail the Detroit Tigers by a half-game.
Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.