video thumbnail

Peavy fans seven over 7 1/3 strong frames

CHICAGO -- For 34 innings and covering parts of five starts dating back to a June 13 appearance in St. Louis, Jake Peavy had two runs of support from his teammates.

That's not two runs of support every inning or two runs of support every nine innings. That's two runs of support ... in total.

Then, in the matter of five batters during the fifth inning of Friday's 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays before 27,129 at U.S. Cellular Field, that paltry run support was surpassed. The three-run frame for the White Sox (46-37) was all the offense Peavy (7-5) would need, as he broke a personal four-start losing streak while extending the club's winning streak to four and six straight at home.

Their standing of nine games over .500 marks a season best and the first time the White Sox have hit such lofty heights since an 88-74 record to finish off the 2010 season. They also moved back to three games ahead of the Indians (43-40) in the American League Central, while maintaining a 4 1/2-game edge over the third-place Tigers (42-42).

Forgive Peavy if after Adam Lind's drive to left cleared the fences to open the second, he thought another loss could be on the horizon. Forgive him yet again if he stepped to the mound in the sixth inning and did a double-take when seeing the number three under the White Sox output for the fifth.

"We did it, didn't we? For a little bit, I thought I might end the season on six [wins]," said a smiling Peavy after the contest played once again under sweltering heat, with a game-time temperature of 91 degrees. "Great win, great job by everybody."

"Yeah, we finally scored for him," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who launched his 16th homer in the sixth off Aaron Laffey (0-1) to complete the White Sox scoring. "He'd been throwing the ball really well. He could have nine, 10, 11 wins right now if we could've scored some runs for him."

Having a little run support for the first time in a month certainly didn't slow down the right-hander. Peavy gave up one run on five hits over 7 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking two. He threw 115 pitches and after retiring Brett Lawrie on a fly ball to center fielder Alejandro De Aza to open the eighth, manager Robin Ventura removed him to a standing ovation.

It was a nice change of pace for Peavy to walk off the mound with a chance for victory instead of dealing with nothing to show for another well-pitched game. Peavy featured a 2.76 ERA over six trips to the mound during June but finished with four losses and two no-decisions.

"When you get a lead in a ballgame as a starting pitcher, it changes the whole way you go about things," Peavy said. "I know it shouldn't. You shouldn't think much changes. You know you have room to wiggle a little bit. You are more aggressive and it's just nice."

"He has four pitches he can use to attack lefties and righties, he never gives in and he's one of the better pitchers in all of baseball," said Toronto manager John Farrell of Peavy. "It's not just the way he's thrown the ball this year, but this is a well-established, successful big league starter. He had multiple pitches working tonight."

While the White Sox continued to play fundamentally flawless baseball, the Blue Jays (42-42) made a major contribution to the White Sox comeback. Dayan Viciedo opened the fifth with a double to left and came home on Alexei Ramirez's single to left.

Viciedo easily had the run scored, but left fielder Rajai Davis still chose to throw home. His throw cleared catcher J.P. Arencibia, sending Ramirez all the way to third. Ramirez scored on Gordon Beckham's bloop single to left, and Beckham took second when Lawrie's no-look flip to Davis as Lawrie was running away from the field was dropped for a second error.

Kevin Youkilis, who has done very little wrong since coming to the White Sox, singled home Beckham for the third run. As Pierzynski pointed out, that sound fundamental approach played a role in Addison Reed's 13th save in 14 opportunities.

Edwin Encarnacion walked to begin the ninth, but Viciedo managed to hold Lind at first on his single down the left-field line. Yunel Escobar's sacrifice fly scored a run, but Viciedo's play set up Davis' game-ending double play.

"We've been playing really smart," Pierzynski said. "We've been really focusing on that since the beginning of Spring Training, just the fundamental stuff, hitting the cutoff man, not letting teams take the extra base."

Despite the franchise's best efforts in their five-day TakeJake campaign, Peavy will not be taking part in Tuesday's All-Star Game in Kansas City. Yet, the right-hander had an All-Star-caliber first half, with a 2.85 ERA and 108 strikeouts and just 93 hits allowed over 120 innings.

Peavy knows there's more highlights to come during the 2012 season, both personally and for a team looking to be playoff caliber. Getting more than a single run marked a good omen Friday.

"Every time he pitches, it just seems like we haven't been able to get a hit or drive a guy in or whatever it is," Pierzynski said. "But tonight we didn't do a great job of it, but we got enough hits and scored enough runs because he pitched well enough to get the win."

"This thing is just getting going," Peavy said. "We got a big 2 1/2 months left and I think we are all in this clubhouse looking forward to that."

MLB.com Comments