White Sox keep rolling behind Quintana, Keppinger

White Sox keep rolling behind Quintana, Keppinger

May 21, 2013, 11:00 pm
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The way they played two weeks ago, when everything that could go wrong did, the White Sox would have found a way to lose Tuesday.

But the White Sox continued a trend of solid all-around play even when it appeared forces had conspired against them yet again.

On a night when they learned Chris Sale won’t make his next start and the team made another late error, the White Sox fought their way to a 3-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox in front of 21,984 at U.S. Cellular Field.

[More: Sale scratched with shoulder issue]

Jose Quintana pitched 6 1/3 hitless innings, the bullpen made several big pitches and Jeff Keppinger and Alex Rios provided enough offense to lift the White Sox to a fourth straight win in games decided by two runs or fewer. The streak has helped the White Sox improve their season record in contests decided by two or fewer runs to 13-14.

“We're hitting better,” said Keppinger, who hit his first home run of the season. “That's going to help our pitching staff, and that's obviously been pretty good all year long. It seems like we've lost a lot of one-run games over the last month-and-a-half, and if our offense can pick it up we're going to win those games.”

Quintana made it pretty easy on his teammates.

The left-hander worked ahead in the count all evening and kept Red Sox hitters off-balance until the seventh. Catcher Tyler Flowers said Quintana was able to elevate a 93-mph fastball at times to ring up five strikeouts and keep a Boston offense second in the American League in runs hitless for six-plus innings.

Quintana walked batters in the second and sixth innings but in between recorded 12 straight outs.

“He threw the ball great all day,” Flowers said. “Even the hits he gave up weren’t bad pitches.”

[More: Ventura breaks down Quintana's stellar start]

David Ortiz ended Quintana’s no-hit bit with one out in the seventh inning on a broken-bat single to center. Just like that, the inning snowballed as Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava singled to load the bases and end Quintana’s night.

“I tried not to think about it because all I wanted to do was get outs and keep the team ahead,” said Quintana, who allowed three hits and walked two. “After (Ortiz) I tried to keep the ball down. But give the hitter credit, he put a good swing on it and I was trying to get a ground ball and they just got a good swing on it.”

Jesse Crain and the bullpen may have deserved credit for a pair of saves.

Crain took over for Quintana and struck out Will Middlebrooks and Stephen Drew to preserve a 2-0 lead.

The Red Sox were in prime position to tie the game in the eighth inning after a run-scoring error by Alexei Ramirez. But with runners on the corners, Matt Lindstrom induced an inning-ending double play off Ortiz’s bat to maintain a 2-1 lead.

[More: Decision on Danks' next step coming Wednesday]

Addison Reed then pitched a scoreless ninth for his 16th save in 17 tries.

Reed had additional room to work with as he pitched through a downpour thanks to Rios. He followed a two-out, eighth-inning single by Ramirez with an RBI double to left to give the White Sox a 3-1 lead.

Rios earlier extended his career-best hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the sixth inning.

But Keppinger delivered the biggest hit of the night when he launched a two-run homer to left off Boston starter Felix Doubront in the fifth inning. All nine White Sox runs in the series have come on two-out hits.

“All the credit goes to "Q" for keeping us in that game like that where obviously two runs can win it,” Keppinger said. “But it's a good feeling to come through for your team. Our starting pitching is really good. Every game, we're in it and we have a chance. It's just a matter of getting that big hit, or getting that big two-out hit. It seems as of late we're getting a lot of two-out hits and they're turning into runs.”