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Rodon shows ace form to pace shutout victory

Left-hander strikes out seven over 7 1/3 scoreless innings
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Carlos Rodon believes the ace of a staff is whichever starter is on the mound for a given game. At least, that's the sort of rotation a team aspires to have.

But in Wednesday's 4-0 victory over the Cardinals, which ended the White Sox six-game losing streak, Rodon looked like Chicago's ace in far more ways than it simply being his turn. He pitched brilliantly over 7 1/3 innings, allowing three hits, striking out seven and walking two in one of his best starts since joining the organization as the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 MLB Draft.

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CHICAGO -- Carlos Rodon believes the ace of a staff is whichever starter is on the mound for a given game. At least, that's the sort of rotation a team aspires to have.

But in Wednesday's 4-0 victory over the Cardinals, which ended the White Sox six-game losing streak, Rodon looked like Chicago's ace in far more ways than it simply being his turn. He pitched brilliantly over 7 1/3 innings, allowing three hits, striking out seven and walking two in one of his best starts since joining the organization as the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 MLB Draft.

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"You've got to learn through adversity," said Rodon, who improved to 2-3 and lowered his ERA to 3.56. "There's going to be some tough outings. I've had numerous tough outings, you guys have watched them. I think a couple years ago, I pitched against this team, a little different, and I didn't even get out of the first inning. There are days like that, and there are days like today where you've got all your stuff and it goes well."

Video: STL@CWS: Renteria on Rodon's performance in 4-0 win

Rodon stranded Matt Carpenter at second in the sixth after a one-out double with the White Sox holding a 1-0 lead. But he exited with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth after a Yoan Moncada error on a potential double-play grounder hit by Kolten Wong and a walk to Carpenter.

Television cameras caught Rodon taking a bat to a fan located at the end of the White Sox dugout, then hitting the same fan with an open right hand. The intense competitor was upset with the walk to Carpenter more than anything else.

"I walked Carpenter again, that kind of pissed me off a little bit. Walked him twice today," Rodon said. "He had some good at-bats against me, and I got frustrated over that. [Manager Rick Renteria] made a move to the 'pen, and the boys picked me up."

Juan Minaya replaced Rodon and struck out Tommy Pham for the second out of the eighth, marking Pham's fourth strikeout of the night. Closer Joakim Soria then came in to strike out Jose Martinez on three pitches. Soria worked a scoreless ninth for his 13th save.

Video: STL@CWS: Soria fans Martinez in a huge spot

"He did what he needed to do in order to put himself in the position to get him later into the ballgame," Renteria said of Rodon. "He was throwing very, very well, and his pitch efficiency was very good. So you do that, and that's going to allow you to get deeper into ballgames. But Carlos never wants to come out."

The White Sox scored one run in the fifth off Cardinals starter Luke Weaver on Tim Anderson's groundout bringing in Leury Garcia, and they added two more in the seventh against reliever Mike Mayers. Anderson doubled home Omar Narvaez, who had two hits, and Charlie Tilson singled home Anderson.

Video: STL@CWS: Anderson rips an RBI double to left field

Moncada's leadoff triple in the eighth off of Jordan Hicks led to a fourth run on Jose Abreu's groundout. That support was plenty for Rodon, whose fastball topped out at 97.4 mph, per Statcast™, as he mixed in his slider and changeup effectively to induce 12 groundouts.

"Yeah, he pitched pretty well tonight," Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong said. "I''d say it was like effective misses almost. He was pitching up in the zone, but it was in spots that we couldn't quite get to him. I thought he hit the corners on me, a good mix between fastball slider and changeup. I think he just pitched good tonight. I mean, we didn't put quite enough pressure on him until the end."

"He is already an ace," Narvaez said of Rodon. "Every time he comes down, he is an ace."

Video: STL@CWS: Narvaez discusses shutout win vs. Cards

VETERAN LEADERSHIP
Before leaving the mound in the eighth, Rodon tapped Moncada on the chest as a sign to not worry about the error Moncada committed on a potential inning-ending double play.

"Look, it's not an easy play," Rodon said. "He was kind of shaded over to pull on Wong. Ball up the middle to his backhand, and it would've been a tough ball to turn, especially on Wong, good runner. Ball was hit hard. Those things happen often. It's my job to pick those guys up."

HE SAID IT
"He continues to mature, not only physically, but he's maturing as a Major League player. You can see it, his composure, he's a pretty excitable guy. He can get pretty upset, but he's a guy who is controlling his emotions a little better."-- Renteria, on Rodon's improvement

UP NEXT
After Thursday's off-day, James Shields (3-10, 4.53 ERA) is scheduled to make his 21st appearance (20th start) of the season, his 13th start at home and his second against the Royals at 7:10 p.m. CT on Friday. Brad Keller will start for the Royals. Shields is 2-3 with a 2.56 ERA over his last eight starts at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Carlos Rodon