06/26/08 8:06 PM ET
Sox stymie Dodgers for road victory
South siders win first series outside of Chicago since May 26-28
By Michael Schwartz / MLB.com
Guillen was exaggerating, but the Sox 2-0 win over the Dodgers on Thursday at Dodger Stadium did clinch their first road series win since taking two of three at Cleveland on May 26-28. Before heading to Los Angeles, Chicago had lost three straight series on the road and nine straight road games overall."I think we needed this one," Guillen said. "The way we've played on the road for the last month of the season, we were just not being good. Hopefully this series will carry on to the next one." Just like in Chicago's series-opening win on Tuesday when Mark Buehrle kept the Dodgers at bay, starter John Danks worked his way in and out of trouble during six scoreless innings. Danks (5-4) picked up his first career Interleague win in seven tries on a day he scattered four hits and four walks. "I didn't quite have the command of the stuff I felt like I had the last couple starts," Danks said. "I had some great plays made behind me, and I felt like I made the pitch I needed to make in the key situations. Whenever we had to bear down, I thought we did." Danks stranded runners at first and second with no outs in the first and induced double-play balls to extinguish threats in the second, third and fourth innings on a day the Dodgers went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. "It's awesome," said catcher Toby Hall. "It's almost the same song and dance with all of our pitchers. They are able to pitch their offspeed pitches in crucial situations and put them in the right spots and get us out of jams. That's big, where all of a sudden you don't have to go to the fastball. They have been really getting it done." With a runner at third and one out in the fourth, Danks fielded a ball hit by Angel Berroa and tried to catch Andy LaRoche a bit too far off third, but LaRoche scurried back to put Danks in a pickle. The pitcher then quickly ended Los Angeles' last serious threat of the afternoon by catching a liner off the bat of Danny Ardoin and throwing to first for the inning-ending double play. "It cleaned up his mess," Guillen said. "I think that turned the game around. We had a lot of chances to score a lot more runs, and we couldn't. We didn't get the big hits, and thank God two was enough to win the game. Added Danks: "Fortunately I was able to throw my glove up in the right spot. I didn't even really know I caught it at first. I definitely had luck on my side that inning." Danks has now allowed two earned runs or fewer in 13 of his 16 starts. He continued his stellar year away from U.S. Cellular Field, lowering his road ERA to a Major League-best 1.48. The pitcher even got his first career hit, a single in the sixth. He said it's fun to have a batting average now since some of his teammates had been getting on him about being hitless for his career entering the game. The Sox scored early by playing small ball against Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw (0-2). Jermaine Dye walked, stole second and scored on an Alexei Ramirez single in the second, and Orlando Cabrera singled, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on a Carlos Quentin single in the third. That ended up being enough, as the bullpen pitched more like it has all season than it did in Danks' outing on Friday against the Cubs, when he threw six innings of one-run ball and left with a 3-1 lead only to see the bullpen lose the game. This time around, four relievers combined for three scoreless innings of one-hit baseball, culminating in Bobby Jenks' 17th save in a 1-2-3 ninth. "We know if we get a lead through six or seven innings, we're in good shape," Danks said. "The guys have been awesome in the bullpen, and we don't mind turning the game over to them." The only trouble the pitching staff encountered all day came when pitching coach Don Cooper was ejected in the seventh and subsequently strained his left hamstring after kicking a few items in the dugout. Cooper ended the game on crutches following an incident Guillen joked only happens when you're out of shape. "Hopefully he'll be ready for next month," Guillen said. But that could not dampen a day when pitching led Chicago to its first road series in about a month, allowing the Sox to maintain their slim half-game lead in the American League Central over the streaking Twins. "It's big," Hall said. "It's big to gain some momentum, head back home and have some fun and hopefully see some fireworks."
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.