CHICAGO – No one would have questioned White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy double checking the scoreboard after the fifth inning Friday.
Winless since May 26, he received little offensive support in his last four outings until a three-run outburst – by Peavy’s standards – spurred the Sox to a 4-2 win against the Blue Jays.
Riding a four-game losing streak despite pitching two complete games Peavy (7-5) was starved for offensive support. The Sox managed only two runs in Peavy’s previous 34 innings pitched until their three-run fifth against Toronto (42-42).
“We did it, didn’t we? For a little bit, I thought I might end the season on six [wins],” Peavy said. “Great win, great job by everybody. It’s just a good team win versus a guy who has been pitching very well. We scrapped a few out and we battle.”
The Sox (46-37) have won eight of their last 10 games and moved to nine games above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2010 season.
“It's kind of been that same story: He gives up one and we struggle,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Guys battled and kind of grinded that one out. It wasn't necessarily pretty but tough at-bats.”
In front of 27,129 fans on a muggy, hot night at U.S. Cellular Field, Peavy gave up one run – a second-inning leadoff homer to Adam Lind – on five hits while walking two and striking out seven in 7 1/3 innings. Even with the less than ideal conditions, Peavy spun another gem, his 14th quality outing in 17 starts.
“I threw very little in the bullpen; I didn’t even wear the clothes I was going to pitch in to warm up in simply because the humidity and the heat,” Peavy said. “But playing in it, you get accustomed to it. You have to conserve energy and know what you are going up against and hydrate.”
The Sox’s three-run fifth erased a 1-0 deficit, and again third baseman Kevin Youkilis found himself in the middle of the rally. Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham hit back-to-back RBI singles, and after an Alejandro De Aza flyout, Youkilis squared off against Toronto starter Aaron Laffey (0-1). The Sox’s third baseman sent a 2-2 cutter into left field for an RBI single to continue an impressive homestand.
Sox fans have enthusiastically embraced Youkilis, and his production certainly fuels their appreciation. Youkilis’ first stint at the Cell as a member of the Sox has been one clutch hit after another. Through his first four home games, Youkilis has seven RBIs – including four go-ahead RBIs. Youkilis’ RBI single in the sixth marked his sixth run driven in with runners in scoring position. Since joining the Sox, he’s hitting .600 (9 for 15) with runners on base.
Undoubtedly one of the Sox’s first-half MVPs, catcher A.J. Pierzynski is on pace for the best season of his 15-year career. Pierzynski hit his 16th home run of the season in the sixth inning and put the Sox ahead, 4-1.
The 16 homers are two shy of his career high, which he set in 2005, his first season with the Sox.
“It's kind of funny. I don't know what happened,” Pierzynski said of his power surge. “It's nice to know when you go up there, you got a chance to be dangerous and have a chance to drive yourself in. But it's still a long ways to go, and we'll see what happens.”