SEATTLE — Sometimes the best solutions are also the simplest.
After a midseason rough patch in which Seattle Mariners rookie Roenis Elias allowed at least five earned runs in three consecutive starts, the left-hander has produced four straight stellar starts following the All-Star break.
The solution: quality family time.
Elias took a no-hitter into the fifth inning to lead the Mariners to a 13-3 series-opening win against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night.
[BOX SCORE: White Sox-Mariners]
He will have to wait a little while longer to make his next impact in the big leagues. In an effort to limit his innings, the Mariners optioned him to Triple-A Tacoma after Thursday's outing.
But he already has plenty to build on.
"It really helped to see my family during the All-Star break, those four days spent with them has really helped me work hard and to maintain that during the second half of the season," Elias said through a translator. "I missed my family, I miss my son and my wife.
"Just seeing them those four days gave me a little more energy to want to work harder."
Elias (9-9) has a 2.08 ERA and 26 strikeouts in four starts since the break. He is the top rookie in the majors with 23 starts and 134 2-3 innings pitched.
He won't be in the minors for long as he is expected to rejoin the Mariners in 10 days when the team is in Philadelphia. A corresponding roster move will be made on Friday.
"He's done a nice job, but we still have to watch his innings," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said.
[MORE WHITE SOX: White Sox don't support Sale, lose to Rangers]
Elias allowed only one walk before Conor Gillaspie hit a one-out double in the fifth. Elias stranded Gillaspie, but left the game after giving up a two-run home run to Dayan Viciedo with two outs in the sixth. Elias allowed a season-low two hits, walked three, and struck out five.
The Mariners gave him plenty of offense. Dustin Ackley had the first of a team-high four RBI in the first with a solo home run, and Endy Chavez, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager added two-run shots.
"We've just got to pitch better," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "I think Scotty got a couple up, and you know they took care of it. Those homers kind of spiraled into a little bit more."
Scott Carroll (4-7) pitched five-plus innings, allowing seven runs and seven hits. He walked three and hit a batter. Four relievers combined to allow six runs, five hits, and four walks.
Viciedo's sixth-inning home run was his 15th of the season.
Alexei Ramirez added an RBI single in the eighth for the White Sox, but Seattle relievers Brandon Maurer and Danny Farquhar shut the door.
Mariners: Willie Bloomquist will have arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Friday. Bloomquist went on the disabled list on July 24 because of a bruised knee. ... OF Michael Saunders, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique, began his rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday.
White Sox: Chicago expects to activate RHP Zach Putnam (right shoulder inflammation) from the disabled list on Friday, Ventura said.
Mariners: Hisashi Iwakuma looks to continue his success against the White Sox on Friday. He is 0-0 with a 1.71 ERA in five appearances - three starts - in his career against them.
White Sox: Starter Jose Quintana has been a bright spot lately for Chicago, putting together quality starts in seven of nine outings. Quintana will attempt to earn his first career win against Seattle on Friday in his fifth try.
McClendon was ejected in the eighth inning after Kendrys Morales was hit by a pitch from reliever Maikel Cleto. That came after White Sox slugger Jose Abreu was hit twice. Home plate umpire Toby Basner warned both benches after Morales was plunked.
White Sox reliever Andre Rienzo was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte following Thursday's game. A corresponding move will be made Friday. Rienzo allowed three runs - two earned - and got only one out on Thursday. He was hit in the chest by a line drive, but remained in the game.