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Backed by Rios, Peavy impressive in return from DL

Sox righty allows two earned runs; right fielder swats go-ahead slam

CHICAGO -- Two handfuls of scouts attending the White Sox 10-6 victory over the Braves Saturday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field sat in Jake Peavy's sightline during his entire six innings on the mound.

Making his first start since June 4 in Seattle, after a fractured rib on his left side meant a trip to the disabled list, Peavy did nothing to hurt his status as what could end up being the best available starter on the open market. Then again, Peavy (7-4) didn't give their presence much thought.

"It don't bother me. I just have to go out there and try to win. There's a lot of eyes on me, period," said Peavy, who allowed just two earned runs on seven hits, while striking out three and not issuing a walk over 96 pitches. "I was trying to win for the [27,294] that came to support us.

"Whatever scouts see, they see. I love to play. I love to compete. I want to win. That's the bottom line. Today for me was about, I didn't expect to have great feel, I didn't expect to have great stuff -- I didn't have either of those -- but I expected to win, and I wouldn't pitch in the big leagues if I didn't. Fortunately, the boys came up with some big hits and we were able to hold on."

Some might term this winning effort by the White Sox (38-56) behind Peavy as an act of redemption, with Alex Rios knocking out three hits and driving in five runs, including his first home run in 120 at-bats. That depiction wouldn't be accurate.

In Rios' case, it's more along the lines of a five-tool talent playing up to his capabilities. The fact that this offensive outburst came the afternoon after Rios was benched by Robin Ventura in the seventh inning Friday night for lack of immediate hustle on a double-play grounder in the fifth was mere coincidence.

Both Ventura and Rios played down the extra motivation factor after the White Sox three-game skid came to an end.

"I go about my business the same way every day. It doesn't matter what happens the day before or whatever," Rios said. "I try to do the same things every day and try to put forth my best performance."

"He's just a good player and he had a good day," said Ventura of Rios. "I don't think it had anything to do with last night because he's a good player and it's been proven before."

To view Saturday's Interleague win as a White Sox showcase with the non-waiver Trade Deadline just 11 days away ... well, now that assessment carries greater accuracy.

Everything felt good for Peavy in the injured rib area, and while he still wants to get his arm back in shape, Peavy's velocity consistently hit in the 93-94 mph range. That's a far cry from his last outing when he tried to pitch through the pain.

At his best, Peavy might not quite be a No. 1 for a playoff team's rotation. But under contract at $14.5 million for 2014, he provides an intense competitor and excellent clubhouse presence that would fit in the rotation's two or three slot when healthy.

There's no need to convince Ventura of Peavy's value. He made his postgame feelings clear as to where he wants the right-hander to remain.

"I'd rather keep him," Ventura said. "That's very evident for me because I know how good he is and I know it's good for us to have him because he's a good pitcher. But I can't go there. It's just more managing the game to win the game."

"Peavy was Peavy. You know?" Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I hadn't seen him pitch in a long time, but I saw the same guy I saw, I think, back when he was in San Diego or maybe when I was here with the Marlins."

Then there's Rios, who turned the game around with a third-inning grand slam on the first pitch he saw from Paul Maholm (9-9). It marked Rios' first long ball since June 9 and helped his team overcome a 4-0 deficit to the Braves (55-42).

Over a stretch of 16 batters in the third and fourth innings, the White Sox scored nine runs on nine hits.

Alejandro De Aza, who has not really been mentioned in trade rumors but would provide a dynamic offensive presence at the top of a lineup, matched his career high with four hits. Josh Phegley, who is going nowhere aside from behind the plate for the White Sox, had two doubles among his three hits, Alexei Ramirez extended his hitting streak to nine games and Jeff Keppinger drove in two.

Reliever Matt Lindstrom followed Peavy with a scoreless seventh, including the 12th ground-ball double play he has induced this season, which is tops among American League relievers. It's a sure bet scouts from the Yankees and Blue Jays, among others, noticed Lindstrom's work.

White Sox players aren't worried about the attention. They want to stay together for more games like Saturday, but know it's now out of their control.

"We have a pretty good group of guys," Rios said. "We have created a bond that if it's broken, it hurts because we've been together for so long. But if it happens, it happens."

"I'm going to show up tomorrow willing and excited to be a Chicago White Sox [player] for the rest of the year in my mind and be ready to pitch Thursday against Detroit," Peavy said. "It would be a sad day to leave if that was to happen."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.
Read More: Chicago White Sox, Jake Peavy, Jeff Keppinger, Josh Phegley, Alexei Ramirez, Alex Rios