The White Sox received welcome relief Sunday from Bob Howry, Keith Foulke and Damaso Marte.
While the relievers combined for five perfect innings in a 4-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals, the rest of the Sox played with an attitude that delighted Howry.
"We've been pressing too hard," said Howry, who retired all nine Royals he faced in the fifth through seventh innings. "This weekend we were more relaxed. We went out and had fun."
The pressure is off now that Sox management has signaled the end of the playoff race. The trade of Ray Durham to Oakland on Thursday took care of that along with Sunday's trade of Kenny Lofton to San Francisco.
Durham's replacement at second base, 24-year-old Willie Harris, played a role in the three-game sweep. Batting leadoff Sunday, Harris scored one run, drove home the game-winning run with a fourth-inning sacrifice fly and caught the fancy of fans in the crowd of 29,554.
"Willie gives us a spark," manager Jerry Manuel said. "We needed that."
"I know rookies are supposed to be seen, not heard," Harris said. "I'm trying to be seen."
Shortstop Royce Clayton, who had three hits, also lauded Harris.
"Willie picked us up with a lot of excitement and energy," Clayton said. "In a couple of days, everybody will be talking football. So we can go out and just play ball."
Rocky Biddle pitched the first four innings. He threw 60 pitches and left with a 3-2 lead but did not qualify for the win. Biddle replaced Todd Ritchie, who is out with an inflamed shoulder.
Howry became the winner when he breezed through his three innings with 32 pitches, 21 of them strikes. Foulke dispatched the Royals on only seven pitches in the eighth. Marte struck out the side in the ninth on just 13 pitches.
"Howry has pitched well for us lately," Manuel said. "Foulke is coming into form and his velocity has picked up. Marte is an emerging lefty on the scene."
Foulke has a 1.46 ERA (two earned runs in 12 1/3 innings) in his last 10 appearances.
"I feel much better," Foulke said. "I'm not throwing as well as I did before this year, but I'm getting close."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun