CHICAGO (AP) -John Danks seemed to be in a hurry. No time to waste on a muggy day, not after his Chicago White Sox's teammates had played back-to-back rain-delayed games.
Danks got the ball, took the signs from catcher A.J. Pierzynski and then let it go. And for six innings, the Los Angeles Angels couldn't hit what he delivered.
After losing his no-hit bid to start the seventh, Danks maintained his composure and finished with his first career shutout on a two-hitter as the surging White Sox beat the Angels 1-0, completing a four-game sweep and winning for the 22nd time in 27 games.
``On a day like today, you don't want to be standing around out there, don't want your defense standing around out there,' Danks said after game that lasted only 1 hour, 50 minutes on a muggy 79-degree day.
``I was just getting the ball and whatever he put down seemed to be the same pitch I wanted to throw. It just worked out that way.'
Stepping up just a day after the White Sox learned they might be without ace Jake Peavy for the rest of the season, Danks, whose previous low-hit performance was a three-hitter last September against the Indians - his only other complete game - worked quickly and was in control of his pitches from the outset.
The sturdy lefty had no walks and seven strikeouts, winning a duel with the Angels' Ervin Santana.
``My stuff was very good. Quick game, too,' Santana said. ``He was throwing strikes, I was throwing strikes. Whoever made the mistake wouldn't win. ... It was intense. Impressive.'
Chicago got a run off Santana (8-7) in the first as he hit leadoff batter Juan Pierre with a pitch, Alex Rios doubled to left and Paul Konerko delivered a sacrifice fly.
And then Danks made it stand up.
Reggie Willits grounded a single just underneath the reach of Chicago shortstop Alexei Ramirez to lead off the seventh for the first hit against Danks, who'd lost his previous two starts. Howie Kendrick then followed with a single up the middle and the Angels had their first threat of the game.
But Danks escaped, getting Torii Hunter on a fielder's choice, Mike Napoli on a pop and then leaping high to snag Juan Rivera's comebacker before throwing him out.
So when did Danks realize he was working on a no-hitter, which could have been the fifth in the majors this season?
``Fifth inning. Any one who says they don't think about it is a liar,' Danks said. ``You know immediately what is going on out there. Actually, as weird as it sounds, it was pretty fortunate that it was a 1-0 game because you can't get ahead of yourself. The job at hand it still to win the game.'
Chicago won its fifth straight and moved within a half game of idle Detroit for first place in the AL Central.
``This could have been the biggest game we have this year,' manager Ozzie Guillen said of Danks' performance because it allowed the White Sox to rest their tired bullpen with three games left before the All-Star break.
The only Angel to get on base in the first five innings was Cory Aldridge, who reached on third baseman Omar Vizquel's two-out error in the third. Pierzynski then made a nice sliding, bobbling catch of Erick Aybar's foul pop to end the inning.
Santana gave up only three hits with three walks and four strikeouts to go with the one hit batsman - the only runner who scored in the entire game.
Manager Mike Scioscia held a very brief team meeting following the loss.
``We haven't looked like ourselves. The White Sox have been on fire. There's no excuse,' Hunter said. ``We have to go out there and play better baseball. If we lose playing better baseball, that's different. But when you lose and you're not playing great baseball, it feels bad. It's the worst feeling ever.'
NOTES: With the southpaw Danks on the mound, slumping lefties Hideki Matsui (4 for 22 in July) and Bobby Abreu (1 for 24) got the day off. ... Guillen was asked how the White Sox would fill the rotation vacancy created by the injury to Peavy, who has a detached muscle behind his pitching shoulder. ``I think you got to stay in the organization. You don't just pull up the magic thing and make a trade,' Guillen said. `` I think you've got to stay in the organization.' Daniel Hudson, 11-4 at Triple-A Charlotte, is a possibility.
The Associated Press News Service
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