CHICAGO (AP) - Paul Konerko would have loved the sweep. This wasn't bad, though.
The Chicago White Sox took two of three from the Boston Red Sox, and their captain saw enough good things in the series, even if it ended with a 6-2 loss on Wednesday night.
``It's good for our record, but I think it should be good for our confidence that we belong on the same field as some of these teams,' Konerko said. ``I don't think we doubt that anyway, but it reinforces it.'
The White Sox have struggled all season but are playing better lately even if they came up short in this one.
Clay Buchholz pitched five-hit ball over seven innings to improve to 7-0, and the Red Sox beat the White Sox to avoid the sweep.
David Ortiz delivered a two-run single in the first off Hector Santiago (1-3) and stole third for the first time in his career. Jacoby Ellsbury had two hits, walked twice and made a big catch in center field to back Buchholz and help the Red Sox come away with their sixth win in eight games.
They're now 9-1 with Buchholz starting, and he's gone at least six innings each time out.
He did get some help from his defense in this one.
Jonny Gomes made a sliding catch on Konerko's line drive to left with two on to end the first, and Ellsbury raced to the center-field warning track to snag Alexei Ramirez's liner with a runner on and two out in the fifth to preserve a 2-1 lead.
Boston added to it in the eighth when Will Middlebrooks hit a sacrifice fly to right off Nate Jones after the Red Sox loaded the bases against Brian Omogrosso in the eighth, and Mike Napoli scored on a passed ball by Tyler Flowers to make it 4-1. The Red Sox scored two more in the ninth to put this one away.
Buchholz allowed just one run while lowering his American League-leading ERA to 1.73. He also matched the best start by a Boston pitcher since Josh Beckett in 2007 and joined Tampa Bay's Matt Moore and Arizona's Patrick Corbin as the only unbeaten pitchers in the majors with seven or more wins.
``I thought tonight, still, he had very good stuff,' manager John Farrell said. ``He's still pitching in the low to mid-90s with his fastball. The biggest thing is you never can sit on any one pitch in any given count.'
The only run Buchholz allowed came on an RBI groundout in the third by Alex Rios, who extended his career-high hitting streak to 17 with a single in the sixth.
The White Sox also got a solo homer from Konerko off Andrew Bailey. Otherwise, the White Sox couldn't get the big hit. They were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position after doing all their scoring with two outs while winning the previous two games 6-4 and 3-1.
``For the swings that (Konerko) had, even the home run, just the speed of the swing and hard contact, it's a step in the right direction,' manager Robin Ventura said.
Santiago wasn't quite as dominant after Jose Quintana took a no-hitter into the seventh the previous night, but he gave the White Sox exactly what they needed.
He settled down after the shaky start and threw six solid innings for the White Sox with Chris Sale scratched because of mild tendinitis in his left shoulder. The left-hander allowed two runs and three hits, struck out nine and walked four pitching on three days' rest in what might be his last start for a while.
That's because he or Dylan Axelrod could be headed to the bullpen with John Danks expected to return from his shoulder injury.
``It's tough, but that's part of being in baseball,' manager Robin Ventura said. ``We have to figure out what's best for us, so we'll figure that out on Friday.'
NOTES: The White Sox said after the game that Danks will be activated from the disabled list and make his first start of the year against Miami on Friday. Danks is coming off a season-ending shoulder injury last year and has not pitched since May 19, 2012. He had surgery in August to repair a capsule tear and remove debris in his rotator cuff and biceps. To make room for Danks, the White Sox optioned LHP Donnie Veal to Triple-A Charlotte after Wednesday's game.
The Associated Press News Service
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