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.

James Shields picks up White Sox bullpen in win over Cubs

James Shields picks up White Sox bullpen in win over Cubs

James Shields offered a taxed bullpen a significant boost on Tuesday night.

The right-hander pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings and the White Sox offense provided him with enough support for a 3-0 victory over the Cubs in front of 39,553 at U.S. Cellular Field. Shields lowered his ERA over his last seven starts to 2.11 as he worked around four hits and four walks with five strikeouts. Shields threw strikes on 70 of 117 pitches as the White Sox won their fourth in a row, including their second straight over the Cubs. David Robertson recorded his 24th save in 28 tries.

A turnaround that began June 23rd in Boston reached its high point Tuesday.

Since an atrocious three-start introduction, Shields has rediscovered the form that made him one of the top starters in the American League for the better part of a decade.

With the bullpen in need of a huge lift after throwing 19 1/3 innings in the previous four games, Shields delivered. The Cubs made him work early as he needed 56 pitches for the first three innings. But Shields got a pair of quick innings in the middle and pushed deep into the second of four straight meetings with the Cubs.

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Only twice did Shields find himself in any trouble and he skillfully dodged it in both instances. After a catcher’s interference call on Dioner Navarro loaded the bases with two outs in the second, Shields induced a foul out to the screen on a 3-2 pitch against Dexter Fowler. Starting there, he retired 12 of 13 batters into the sixth. Shields put the next two men on base but got Javy Baez to foul out down the line with the aid of a nice catch by Tim Anderson.

Anderson also began nice inning-ending double play in the seventh inning, which allowed Shields to return in the eighth. He retired two before issuing a walk and exiting to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd.

Shields has a 2.11 ERA in 47 innings over his last seven starts.

The White Sox took some pressure off Shields with a run in the first inning. Shields, who entered ranked 130th among 138 qualified starting pitchers with 3.2 runs per game, found himself ahead 1-0 when Jose Abreu took advantage of a leadoff walk by Adam Eaton and a Tim Anderson single with an RBI base hit of his own. The White Sox left the bases loaded but made Hendricks work.

Hendricks rebounded and retired 10 of 12 into the fifth inning. He struck out seven through four innings and mostly held the White Sox in check.

But Adam Eaton gave Shields some extra cushion in the fifth when he blasted a solo homer to right to make it a 2-0 game. Eaton’s seventh homer traveled an estimated 395 feet.

The White Sox added another run in the sixth inning after Todd Frazier’s two-out single (a pop up to medium right that bounced off the glove of Anthony Rizzo) got things started. Frazier stole second against reliever Travis Wood, who then walked three straight batters, including Tyler Saladino, to force in a third run.

No late magic as Cubs shut out by White Sox on South Side

No late magic as Cubs shut out by White Sox on South Side

Aroldis Chapman was in uniform for the Cubs Tuesday night, but Joe Maddon never got a chance to employ his shiny new toy.

After posting late rallies the last two games, the Cubs offense was noticeably absent on Chicago's South Side, dropping a second straight game in this Crosstown matchup 3-0 in front of 39,553 fans at U.S. Cellular Field.

White Sox starter James Shields scattered four singles and four walks in 7.2 innings, using 117 pitches to shut down the Cubs lineup.

The first White Sox hitter of the game scored as Adam Eaton drew a walk and was eventually plated on Jose Abreu's RBI single three batters later.

Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks settled down from there, allowing only a solo homer to Eaton in the fifth.

But the wheels came off for the Cubs in the sixth inning as Hendricks departed following two quick outs and a bloop hit from Todd Frazier that glanced off the glove of Anthony Rizzo in shallow right field.

Travis Wood came on to relieve Hendricks, but walked the first three hitters he faced to force in Frazier with the third run of the game.

The Cubs' best opportunity to score came in the second when they loaded the bases with two outs, but Dexter Fowler fouled out behind home plate. After that, only one baserunner reached second base all game for the Cubs.

Kris Bryant said before the game he was itching at another chance to face Shields after the veteran pitcher welcomed Bryant to the big leagues with a couple of strikeouts in the latter's debut last April at Wrigley Field.

But Shields once again got the best of Bryant Tuesday night, striking out the MVP candidate three times in four trips to the plate.

Bryant is now just 1-for-10 against Shields with seven strikeouts.

The Crosstown series moves to the North Side Wednesday night for the final two games.

Watch: CSN goes 1-on-1 with Illini head coach Lovie Smith

Watch: CSN goes 1-on-1 with Illini head coach Lovie Smith

It's the start of a new era at Illinois.

Lovie Smith has returned to the Land of Lincoln, the one-time head coach of the Bears taking over the reins of the Illini football program.

After several years of losing — and just four bowl appearances in the past 14 years — Illinois gave fans plenty of reason to be excited with this high-profile hire, giving the program instant credibility and a new feeling of optimism by bringing in an experienced NFL winner.

Smith met the media and ceremoniously joined the brotherhood of Big Ten coaches Tuesday during the second day of Big Ten Media Days and talked about his vision, recruiting in his old stomping grounds and his work to turn the Illini around.

CSNChicago.com sat down with Smith for a 1-on-1 interview Tuesday, and you can check out the interview in the video above.