Floyd baffles Bucs as ChiSox get win
With or without Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd insisted the Chicago White Sox can win the American League Central. They just might make a run if he keeps pitching like this.
Floyd allowed two hits over eight innings and Alexei Ramirez homered as the White Sox rebounded from one of their worst days by beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0 on Friday night.
"That's the Gavin we like to have," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
"This is the Gavin I'd like to have, too," Floyd said.
Floyd (3-4) gave the White Sox just what they needed a day after their franchise record-tying 20-1 trouncing by Minnesota and rejection by Peavy, outpitching Zach Duke to lift the White Sox to just their third win in nine games.
Ramirez singled and scored in the third and led off the eighth with his second homer to make it 2-0. That was enough for Floyd, who struck out eight and walked two after going 0-3 in his previous five starts, in a game that lasted just 1 hour, 51 minutes. Bobby Jenks pitched a perfect ninth for his 10th save in as many chances.
Duke (5-4) was a tough-luck loser despite allowing just six hits and attacking the inside of the plate while striking out seven over eight innings.
"It's opened everything for me," he said. "It's opened up the changeup away. It's opened up my sinker more, and obviously I'm getting some called strikes and bad reactions. It's really taken my game to the level I want it to be at."
But after seeing their season-high five-game win streak end with Thursday's 5-4 loss to Washington, the Pirates did little against a team and a pitcher mired in misery.
The 19-run pounding and Peavy's refusal to allow San Diego to trade him to Chicago were just the latest setbacks for the struggling White Sox, who have high expectations.
"It was kind of exciting to know that we were trying to get Peavy," Floyd said. "It didn't happen. No big deal. I think we have a good enough team now to compete and win the division."
One of the biggest disappointments for the defending AL Central champions has been Floyd, a 17-game winner last season who earned his first victory since April 19.
His ERA entering the game was 7.71 - 9.95 in his previous five outings. But he finally showed his old form Friday.
He didn't allow a runner past second and the closest Pittsburgh came to scoring was when Eric Hinske sent a fly to deep right that Jermaine Dye caught against the wall.
"Hopefully, this game pulls him on the right track for the rest of the season," Guillen said. "That's the Gavin we know."
Floyd said his recent problems were just a few pitches here and there, nothing mechanical. It was frustrating, yet also comforting. There was no major flaw in his delivery, and against the Pirates, he was almost flawless.
Duke wasn't bad, either.
The struggling Ramirez, however, got the better of him. Last year's runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year, he began the night with a .213 average but - like Floyd - flashed his old form.
He led off the third with a single to center and scored from third on Scott Podsednik's grounder to second. In the eighth, he drove a 2-1 pitch out to left-center after going 72 at-bats without a homer.
"We all know he can hit," Guillen said. "It's just a matter of time, when he's going to do it and be more patient. Now, he's being more patient at the plate."
Guillen hopes Carlos Quentin is ready to move back to left field Saturday after he went 0 for 3 as the DH in his return to the starting lineup following a one-week absence. He had missed five games with a sore left heel before singling in a run Thursday. ... Guillen will miss Saturday's game to tend to his ailing father-in-law in Venezuela. He'll try to be back in time for Sunday's game. ... The Pirates won't have to leave town after this weekend series; they visit the Cubs for three games starting Monday.