ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With 150 games left in the regular season, the White Sox have put a few notches on their belt at the expense of the defending American League champions.
The Sox earned their largest margin of victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in their 12-year series with an impressive blend of power, pitching and youth in a 12-2 win Sunday.
The Sox also won consecutive games on artificial turf for the first time since Sept. 21-22, 2007, at Minnesota.
"We were one pitch away from winning all four here," said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who hit a two-run homer off Matt Garza in the second inning. "It was a great series to win three of four, especially after last year, when we struggled here big time.
"To beat Garza, to beat [Scott] Kazmir, it's tough to do. It doesn't happen a lot. Hopefully we can keep it going when we go to Baltimore."
The Sox have plenty of highlights to digest during Monday's day off. They moved two games over .500 for the first time this season at the expense of the team that ousted them from last year's playoffs. The offense collected a season-high 17 hits.
Carlos Quentin, who missed the playoffs and the final 28 games of the regular season because of a broken right wrist, clubbed his league-leading seventh home run in the eighth inning. Quentin has hit home runs in three consecutive games for the first time in his career.
"I'm pretty realistic about understanding how the game works," Quentin said. "That game was taken care of by my teammates. They did an unbelievable job."
Nevertheless, Quentin has hit seven homers in the Sox's first 12 games after hitting seven last April en route to a 36-homer season.
"The game always changes with the scenario, but I think we made the Rays' pitching work this series," Quentin said. "Sometimes you're effective doing it, and sometimes you're not. We're able to create good at-bats, and that started with the beginning of our lineup and all the way through our lineup."
Quentin credited leadoff batter Chris Getz with breaking the game open with a two-run single to cap a four-run sixth. But Brent Lillibridge, starting at shortstop in place of Alexei Ramirez, reached base safely three times at the No. 2 spot, and Brian Anderson collected three hits from the No. 9 spot.
This marked the second consecutive win in which manager Ozzie Guillen tweaked the lineup with successful results, such as third baseman Wilson Betemit collecting two hits.
Gavin Floyd (2-1) redeemed himself after walking seven in his previous start by striking out seven, walking none and blanking the Rays until Ben Zobrist hit a two-run homer in the seventh.
"I don't want to say he's my ace, but he's one of the top pitchers right now in the big leagues, and he continued to throw the ball well," Guillen said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun