Quentin comes up big for White Sox

Quentin comes up big for White Sox

CHICAGO -- There just seems to be no stopping these White Sox, even when their offense was basically shut down by a strong pitching effort from Cleveland's Aaron Laffey on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

Carlos Quentin came up big yet again, breaking a stalemate in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single to send the White Sox to a 3-1 win and a three-game sweep of the Indians. The White Sox have won eight straight, their longest run since claiming nine in a row from June 15-24, 2006.

It marked the first time the White Sox have swept the Indians at home since 2003.

"It's tough sweeping teams," said White Sox starter Mark Buehrle, who did not factor in the decision but pitched seven strong innings. "I don't care how good you're playing or how bad the teams are playing. It's tough to do it in a three-game series against a team like this.

"But to go out there and sweep two teams, it's fun to be on this roll," Buehrle added.

To say the White Sox are on a roll might be a bit of an understatement, as the team continues to work on all cylinders -- even getting terrific production Thursday off the bench.

Toby Hall, who started in place of A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate, finished the game 3-for-3 with three singles, but the only one that truly mattered was the last one. Leading off the eighth, Hall singled to right -- a base hit that had a two-pronged effect: Laffey, who has allowed just two earned runs in his last 28 innings, was relieved by Masa Kobayashi, and Hall was replaced at first base by pinch-runner Brian Anderson.

Anderson displayed some heads-up baserunning, tagging and advancing to second on pinch-hitter Pierzynski's two-out fly ball to deep center. With first base free, the Indians decided to pitch to the hot-hitting Quentin, and it was a costly decision.

Quentin grounded a single to left, picking up his second RBI of the game and 40th of the season. He also scored after advancing to second on the throw home, when Jermaine Dye came through in the very next at-bat with another single to left.

"In those situations, I have had a tendency to get amped up," Quentin said. "Fortunately, this year, I've just backed off and said, 'Use the barrel, get a single, get the run in and do whatever you can to get the job done.'"

And given the excitement of the moment, it might be easy to overlook Anderson's savvy baserunning, but nobody in the clubhouse neglected to mention it.

"I think Brian knows how to run the bases," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That's the reason we pinch-run him. Like I say, we are not a fast team but we are running the bases the best since I have this job. It's the best since 2004."

"I think any starting pitcher wants to go out there and get the win when you can. I've already said, 'If I go 0-0 and we win every one of my starts I'm happy with it.' And we're going get to the right place at the end of the year."
-- Mark Buehrle

"It's kind of hard not to tag when [first-base coach] Harold [Baines] is in your ear yelling 'Tag' as loud as he can," Anderson added. "When you hear Harold yell that loud, you tend to listen."

Buehrle wasn't able to pick up his third win of the season, but it was through no fault of his own. The lefty allowed just the one Indians run and surrendered only two hits.

But not getting the win for such a quality outing didn't faze Buehrle.

"I think any starting pitcher wants to go out there and get the win when you can," Buehrle said. "I've already said, 'If I go 0-0 and we win every one of my starts I'm happy with it.' And we're going get to the right place at the end of the year."

Scott Linebrink picked up his first win of the season with a scoreless eighth inning, and Bobby Jenks picked up his 12th save with a perfect ninth. It was the 99th save of his career.

Wednesday night's win came via the home run, and on Thursday night, the win came courtesy of some timely hitting and smart baserunning. They're all necessary ingredients for a winning streak that has moved the White Sox to a season-high 3 1/2 games ahead of the Twins in the American League Central.

"Anytime you can take games away from a team like [the Indians], you jump on it," Quentin said. "They'll bounce back, and we're going to run into them again, but it's great to get a win against that caliber of a team."

While pleased with the team's performance, Guillen is hesitant to get too worked up about its recent success.

"It was fun today," Guillen said. "Take it one day at a time, like I always say. You can't get so high or so low. It's always nice when you win the game or have a good thing going. Believe me, when you have a run like this, you can't wait to get back to the ballpark."

The White Sox (26-20) have now won 11 of their last 14 games, while the Indians (22-25) dropped their sixth straight.

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