Floyd, Dunn provide all the White Sox need

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Floyd, Dunn provide all the White Sox need

By Paul LaTour
CSNChicago.com contributor

Adam Dunn doesnt want to talk about last year. He doesnt want to think about. And he sure as heck doesnt want to be reminded of it.

Its no wonder. His struggles during the 2011 season are well-documented. But with his start to 2012, Dunn is set to obliterate his paltry numbers from a year ago.

With a first-inning home run, Dunn tied his total from last season. The long blast to right field started the White Sox to a 5-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday at U.S. Cellular Field.

A two-run triple by Alex Rios and RBI singles from Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza provided more than enough offense for starter Gavin Floyd.

Floyd (3-3) made another strong start, holding the Royals to five hits and no runs in 7 23 innings. Escaping a second-inning jam sparked Floyd, who retired 11 consecutive batters and 17 of 18 during one stretch.

Dunn opened the scoring with his 11th home run of the season, which is also his sixth home run in his past 10 games. Dunn now has 376 career home runs, tying him with Carlton Fisk for 68th on the all-time list. More importantly, Dunn reached base in all four plate appearances, meaning it was his first game of the season without striking out.

The Sox added to their lead in the third with a two-out run when De Aza singled and stole second before Beckham followed with an RBI single. Dunn then rocketed a ground-rule double into the right-field corner that would have scored Beckham if not for going out of play. The rally ended when Paul Konerko flew out to left.

Another two-out rally scored two for the Sox in the sixth as they chased out starter Felipe Paulino. Alex Rios had the big hit, a two-run triple to score Beckham and A.J. Pierzynski to make it 4-0.

The Sox added a run in the seventh when De Aza drove in Eduardo Escobar with a single.

Floyd was perfect in four of the first five innings, but the Royals loaded the bases with one out in the second inning on two walks sandwiching a Mike Moustakas single. Floyd got out of it by getting back-to-back comebackers to the mound. The Royals didnt get another baserunner until Jarrod Dyson led off the sixth with a single. Floyd then retired the next three batters, stranding Dyson at second.

The Royals loaded the bases with three hits in the eighth as Floyd started running out of gas. He left with two outs and the bases still loaded as Matt Thornton struck out Eric Hosmer to deny the Royals any runs. Floyd, who entered with a 1.71 ERA in his previous three starts, finished with two walks and five strikeouts in a 116 pitch performance.

Hector Santiago pitched a perfect ninth to complete the shutout.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

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