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Early power surge leads White Sox win

Early power surge leads to victory

CHICAGO -- The Red Sox looked like they were going to pick up right where they left off.

Mike Lowell smoked a three-run homer off Gavin Floyd with an 0-2 count in the first inning to give the Red Sox a big early lead.

But then the White Sox offense had its say.

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Carlos Quentin and Jim Thome swatted two-run home runs in the third to give the White Sox the lead and spur on a 6-5 victory at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday.

The win moved Chicago back into first place in the American League Central, one-half game ahead of the Twins, who lost to the Royals, 5-4, in 12 innings.

But Sunday's victory was even bigger for the White Sox mentally. One day removed from the late-inning defeat Saturday in which Jose Contreras was lost for the season with an injury, the South Siders showed their resiliency.

"Every time you have a bad game," manager Ozzie Guillen said, "and you bounce [back] the way we bounced today -- especially when it's 3-0 before you even take the field -- I think that was a great comeback. I think everybody did what they were supposed to do."

Trailing, 3-1, in the third, A.J. Pierzynski singled, and Quentin blasted his league-leading 32nd home run off Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz (2-8). Jermaine Dye, who hit a solo homer of his own in the second, then smacked a single to set up Thome for the second home run of the inning, which traveled 431 feet over the right field wall.

"We've got a few guys who have stepped up," Thome said. "Quentin obviously has had a heck of a year. Same with JD, and we're doing some little things as well. The top of the order has been on base and putting a little pressure on the defense. We got some guys swinging well. Hopefully we can ride it out."

The key play of the game for the White Sox, though, came after Matt Thornton walked the bases loaded with one out in the top of the seventh. Guillen brought in Octavio Dotel to face Lowell, who grounded into an inning-ending double play that preserved the one-run lead.

"I knew I had bases loaded and less than two outs, and coming in to face one of the best hitters that they've got," Dotel said. "I just tried to throw strikes. In that situation, with the bases loaded, the last thing I wanted to do was walk that guy. I came through, and things came my way, and finally, we ended it with a double play."

"OK, things start bouncing our way," Guillen added of the double play.

Starter Gavin Floyd had even more at stake than the important game and the possible ire of his manager, who demanded before the game that the rotation step it up down the stretch.

Bobby Jenks bet Floyd that if he got to 12 wins this season, he'd have to shave his head.

When Floyd (12-6) walked into the clubhouse, he was almost unrecognizable.

"It was positive on both sides," Floyd said. "He gets what he wants, and I get what I want. He was just trying to motivate me, just as a friendly, fun thing. I'm happy where we are at right now, and we'll keep on pushing."

"I just wanted him to get a haircut," added Jenks, who closed the game out with a perfect ninth. "There was no one getting on tonight."

Floyd recovered well after giving up the home run to Lowell in the first. Things didn't go sour until the sixth, when J.D. Drew led off with a triple and scored two batters later on Jason Bay's single. After giving up another single to Sean Casey, Thornton came on in relief.

One of the stranded runners came across the plate on a wild pitch, bringing Floyd's total to five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Guillen wanted his rotation to step it up, and although Floyd's outing wasn't stellar, it got the job done.

"Floyd only made two bad pitches," Guillen said. "A hanging breaking ball with two strikes to [Dustin] Pedroia, and a hanging breaking ball to Lowell also with two strikes, otherwise he pitched real well. I think he stepped up, and as long as he gives us a chance to win, we gonna have a chance, because our offense is starting to get better."

The White Sox can get comfortable for at least another 24 hours in first place, but Floyd may not.

"Oh my gosh, I feel like I put some menthol shampoo on and it's cooling my head down," he said. "The pressure's off now, I've got no hair, so just focus on Oakland."

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

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