Garland sharp as Sox avert sweep

Garland sharp as Sox avert sweep

CHICAGO -- The White Sox finally got firing on all cylinders Sunday, beating the Rangers, 5-0, in front of the 28th sellout crowd of the season at U.S. Cellular Field.

The Sox combined sound fundamentals in the field, impressive pitching and a mixture of small ball and long ball at the plate to score their runs.

After two days of pregame bunting practice, Ross Gload -- playing for Paul Konerko, who had the day off -- laid down two sacrifice bunts in the third and the fifth innings to move Alex Cintron and Rob Mackowiak over to second and third. Scott Podsednik was able to get ground balls down to score Cintron for the first two Sox runs.

"Ross Gload got in there and got the two bunts down and that just sets up your offense," Podsednik said. "Once you get those guys over and get a couple of guys in, it just cranks up your offense. It provides energy, and the rest of the club feeds off that and gets it going."

Podsednik ended the day with three RBIs when he hit his third home run of the year 406 feet to center field in the eighth inning. Tadahito Iguchi also went deep, hitting a two-run shot in the fifth.

Guillen had expressed disgust the last several days about his team's lack of ability to play sound fundamental baseball, especially when it came to bunting.

"I think we need that. It was embarrassing when we didn't do the job," Guillen said. "I want the players to understand how important that is for us in the bottom of the lineup, for those guys who are supposed to be bunting to do those little things. That's what I expect from them, this is no joke."

Along with improvement on bunting, Guillen got another encouraging sign that his club is starting to come out of its slump in the form of Jon Garland's impressive performance. Garland pitched 8 1/3 innings of shutout baseball, only allowing six hits to extend his winning streak to six games.

"I think that's one of the best I've ever seen Garland throw," Guillen said. "We needed this game and Garland showed up in a big way. Hopefully, I won't have to wait another week until Garland pitches again to win another game."

The spotlight was almost stolen from Chicago's solid performance in the bottom of the third inning, when Rangers starter Vicente Padilla hit Alex Cintron in the right thigh, prompting Guillen to toss a water bottle in disgust. In his last outing against the White Sox, Padilla hit A.J. Pierzynski twice in a way that Guillen thought was intentional. Guillen had promised retribution and it looked like he would keep that promise when Garland's first two pitches of the fourth inning sailed behind Ian Kinsler.

Home-plate umpire Randy Marsh immediately warned both benches. Guillen made a visit to the mound where he spoke animatedly to Garland. After Garland got out of the inning without further incident, he approached Guillen in the dugout and they had another heated discussion prompting Guillen to spike two more water bottles. But after the game, Guillen said they talked again when he had calmed down and that everything was cleared up.

"I'm not the guy that's going to sit there and take my hitters getting hit and not do anything. I think that's not fair for us," Guillen said. "I've got to protect my players. My players have to know I'm behind them 100 percent."

Podsednik characterized Sunday's win as "huge," breaking a four-game losing streak before the Sox head into a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins, who trail the Sox by only three games in the division race.

"The difference between tonight's win and the past few losses is that we executed the fundamentals," Podsednik said. "They're all big, but hopefully this [win] will give us some momentum going into the next series."

With a Detroit win Sunday, the Sox remain a season-high 6 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central race, but extended their 2 1/2-game lead in the Wild Card over the Yankees.

After the game, the White Sox designated backup catcher Chris Widger for assignment and said that a corresponding move would be made before Monday's game against the Twins.

Leslie Parker is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.