CHICAGO – From the infield to the outfield, the White Sox are playing much better defense than they did during their listless start. And it’s no coincidence the wins are coming in bunches now.
Dayan Viciedo and Alex Rios each threw out a runner at the plate, and the Sox beat Alex Sanabia and the Miami Marlins, 5-3, on Sunday to sweep their weekend series.
“I’ve just always believed you’ve got to be able to play defense so you don’t have those things happen,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You know the game changes and guys are still on base, you’re still down an out, so we just like our guys to stay with it.”
The Sox have won five of six and nine of 12 to climb back to .500 for the first time since they were 4-4 through April 10. Dylan Axelrod (3-3) benefited from a two-run homer by Adam Dunn and a tiebreaking two-run double from Alejandro De Aza while earning his third consecutive victory.
It was the first three-game series sweep for the Sox since they won three in a row in September at Minnesota.
“Every win is very important. Every win means a lot,” Rios said. “Sweeping teams like this, you have to do it. You have to sweep teams like this and keep it going for the next games.”
Sanabia returned to the mound for the first time since cameras caught him spitting on the ball during a start against Philadelphia on Monday. He said he didn’t know it was illegal, and it looks as if Major League Baseball has no plans to discipline the 24-year-old right-hander.
Sanabia (3-7) pitched into the seventh inning against the Phillies to end a personal five-game losing streak. But he was unable to sustain that success against the Sox (24-24). Then he said after the game he was headed to the disabled list with a right groin problem.
“As of right now there is no point to continue to pitch or what not,” he said. “I don’t want to make it worse and be something serious instead of something minor.”
Notes: The Sox traded minor league infielder Drew Garcia to the Colorado Rockies for a player to be named. The 27-year-old Garcia hit .222 with 12 RBIs in 24 games for Triple-A Charlotte this season. ... Ventura said catcher Tyler Flowers (back spasms) was available, but he wanted to hold him out as a precaution. Flowers has missed three consecutive games. ... Sox left-hander Chris Sale, who was scratched from his start Wednesday because of mild shoulder tendinitis, remains in line to start Tuesday against the Cubs.
... Miami faces Tampa Bay on Monday afternoon, with Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (2-2, 3.31 ERA) opposing RHP Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 5.40 ERA). ... White Sox LHP Jose Quintana (3-1, 3.48 ERA) faces Cubs RHP Jeff Samardzija (2-6, 3.25 ERA) on Monday night.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap