CHICAGO -- Sunday marked the 44th game of the season for the White Sox, and they were guaranteed to finish the day atop the American League Central.But after two straight losses to the Royals and eight losses in their last 10 games, this series finale became as important of a
CHICAGO -- Sunday marked the 44th game of the season for the White Sox, and they were guaranteed to finish the day atop the American League Central.
But after two straight losses to the Royals and eight losses in their last 10 games, this series finale became as important of a contest for the South Siders as a team could find in late May.
"We needed to win this game," White Sox left fielder Melky Cabrera said through interpreter and Spanish language broadcaster Billy Russo, after the White Sox held on for a 3-2 victory and avoided a home sweep against the defending World Series champions.
"Instead of taking three games from us, they only got two," said White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier, who homered in the victory. "We salvaged that. These are huge going down the stretch of the first half of the year here."
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Carlos Rodon gave the White Sox a chance over 6 2/3 innings, limiting the damage by allowing two runs on eight hits and two walks. It was Cabrera, though, who changed the momentum with a two-run, two-out single off of Yordano Ventura in the fifth.
Ventura pitched around Frazier to load the bases with two out, and Cabrera stepped to the plate in the midst of White Sox hitters' 0-for-18 drought with runners in scoring position. Ventura picked up two quick strikes and then tried to quick-pitch Cabrera, but he was ready on the 96-mph fastball.
"I just was looking for a good pitch to hit," Cabrera said. "It was a good pitch, but I was prepared to hit it, and I did."
"Guys have got to step up when opportunities come. Melky did his job today," Frazier said. "They pitched around me there. I guess that's what they were trying to do. So get me on base, and Melky just did what he has to do."
Factoring in Cleveland's loss at Boston, the White Sox hold a 2-1/2 game lead over the Indians as they come to Chicago for a four-game series beginning with Monday's doubleheader. The White Sox have yet to be swept this season and have an 8-5 record in the third game of a series.
They also have a 1-5-1 series record over their last seven, sweeping the Twins, splitting with the Orioles and losing to the Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, Astros and Royals. The hope in Sunday's lively victorious clubhouse was that this one-run decision before a raucous crowd can build momentum for another AL Central-driven week.
"It was a good time for Chicago and a good win for us today," Frazier said. "Hopefully we can keep tacking on some more runs because we still left a couple out there that we could have easily gotten. We're still focused and determined to get those in."
"All around good baseball," Rodon said. "We didn't want to get swept during that series. I came out and pitched the best I could and gave the team a chance to win."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.