ST. PETERSBURG -- For four straight innings, from the third to the sixth, White Sox starting pitcher Carlos Rodon allowed the Rays' leadoff hitter to reach base Saturday night at Tropicana Field.
And for four straight innings, the Rays didn't score. It was one of those bend but don't break nights for the White Sox southpaw in a game eventually won by Chicago, 2-1. The South Siders matched their season-best winning streak, grabbing three straight wins for the third time this season.
Chicago scored the deciding run in the ninth when Tim Anderson opened the frame with a double down the left-field line, marking the first hit off of Yonny Chirinos in four-plus innings of relief. Anderson scored on Leury Garcia's perfect two-strike sacrifice bunt and third baseman Matt Duffy's less than perfect throw into right field. Garcia had been unable to execute on his first two bunt attempts.
"We practice that a lot in Spring Training," said Anderson of Garcia's bunt. "We stress that a lot and he was able to get it down."
"Still doing that on his own," said White Sox manager Rick Renteria of Garcia's bunt. "He was looking at the defense, hoping to split them even a little more. He gets down the line pretty good. If you hustle you give yourself a chance and put more pressure on the defense."
Rodon pitched six innings, yielding one unearned run on three hits. He struck out four but also walked five, including Mallex Smith to open the third and fifth and Jake Bauers to start the fourth. Rodon actually walked Bauers and C.J. Cron to begin the fourth, but the Rays finished 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Only 57 of Rodon's 98 pitches went for strikes, with his fastball topping out at 96.3 mph, per Stacast. Rodon had a good mix of his pitches, throwing 23 changeups and 31 sliders to go with his fastball, and getting 16 swinging strikes in total. In his last five starts, covering 34 2/3 innings, Rodon has allowed six earned runs.
"Luckily I had the secondary pitches working because the fastball wasn't quite up to par. And some good defensive plays made," Rodon said. "You're gonna have those days and you have to see what you're made of. A little up and down but got through it and the bullpen shut it down."
"He sensed that he wasn't as good as he normally is," Renteria said. "[White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] kept telling him, 'You can work with what you have.' That's what he did."
The only run scored by the White Sox in Blake Snell's return on the mound came via Jose Abreu's 416 foot home run leading off the fourth, with an exit velocity of 107.3 mph. Abreu has homered in three straight games and raised his season's total to 19.
"Both sides threw a heck of a game, every last one of them," Anderson said. "We were able to scratch out two runs. Big home run by Pito and Leroy with the great bunt."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Swipe left for out: The White Sox looked on their way to a 1-0 lead in the second when Matt Davidson walked and was headed home on a Yolmer Sanchez double into the left-field corner. But the throw from Smith to shortstop Willy Adames to catcher Jesus Sucre nailed Davidson at the plate, with Sucre getting Davidson high on the body with a swipe tag seconds before Davidson could touch the plate. The White Sox did not score in the inning.
Can't beat fun at the old ballpark:Carlos Gomez stole the show in the sixth inning after Rodon hit him with a pitch with a runner on third and two outs. Gomez took one step out of the box and did a straight on pratfall, face-first to the ground. Rodon had to cover his mouth with his glove to hide the laughter, even when holding Gomez on first. Rodon escaped the inning unscathed and the two exchanged half-hugs and pats on the back on the third-base line as they left the field. Gomez explained to Rodon nothing was wrong with him physically.
"Yeah, because he thinks like something happen," Gomez said. "So I tell him, I'm just playing around with my manager and the training staff."
"It was pretty funny," Rodon said. "Gomez is a good character and ballplayer. Just liven it up a little."
Gomez has been hit by a pitch 17 times this season and was joking with his own dugout that they never come out to check on him.
"That was funny," Anderson said. "It's good to see some stuff like that every once in a while."
Abreu has homered in a career-high-tying three straight games, doing so previously from June 9-12, 2015, and Aug. 20-23, 2016.
HE SAID IT
"You see it. Heck of a ballclub, heck of teammates. We go out and bust our tails and we've been doing a great job at it the last two days and have been battling."-- Anderson, on the two wins over the Rays giving a little life to a poor season
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Renteria challenged the call that Sanchez was out at second on an inning-ending double-play grounder hit by Omar Narvaez in the fifth. The call stood after video replay, with Renteria continuing to argue from the dugout. Home-plate umpire John Tumpane looked as if he warned Renteria to stop, before ejecting him. It was the fifth ejection of the season for Renteria and 18th of his career.
Right-hander James Shields (4-13, 4.56 ERA) is scheduled to make his 24th start of the season, 10th on the road and second against the Rays with a 12:10 p.m. CT first pitch Sunday at Tropicana Field. Shields, who was one of the many honored pregame Saturday for his major role on the '08 AL championship Rays, is 0-7 with a 6.06 ERA in his last nine starts on the road. He earned his last road victory on Opening Day at Kansas City.