After the White Sox were held to one hit through five innings and were on the verge of watching a sterling effort from Javier Vazquez go for naught, Jermaine Dye couldn't be blamed Wednesday night for spiking his bat and pumping his fist after solving nemesis Paul Byrd.
The first of Dye's two home runs fueled a five-run sixth-inning comeback that enabled to the Sox to extend their winning streak to seven games and their American League Central lead to 21/2 games after a 7-2 victory over Cleveland.
"Just because of the situation," Dye summed up the emotions of his three-run homer that traveled an estimated 417 feet and landed inside the left-field foul pole. "We were down by two, two runners on, one swing and we give [Vazquez] the lead. I got a pitch I was able to drive and got excited. The crowd was in the game, and it was a good atmosphere out there."
Good feelings spread throughout a near-sellout crowd of 38,518 at U.S. Cellular Field. The five-run eruption marked the sixth time the Sox have scored three runs or more in an inning during their winning streak.
They provided enough run support for Vazquez (5-3), who is 6-1 in his last eight starts against AL Central opponents and retired 12 consecutive batters at one point.
"We're playing pretty good," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Every time we send anybody from the starting rotation, we feel what kind of job we're going to get. It has been 11/2 months with almost the same situation with our rotation—good innings, quality innings, and Javy has been consistent all year."
"I think that's the reason we are where we are. They put us in a good situation to win."
The Sox (25-20) handed Byrd his first career loss at U.S. Cellular after losing four times in five previous starts.
"He doesn't throw really hard," Dye said. "He just hit spots and gets you to be too aggressive. He was as good as I've seen in a while for those first five innings."
Guillen referred to Byrd as a "cobra" for the manner in which he lulls opponents with his off-speed pitches.
Dye reached twice (on a walk and a hit-by-pitch) before cranking his go-ahead homer. The hit came after the Indians protested a call at first that would have given them a double play. Replays showed that Asdrubal Cabrera's throw beat Carlos Quentin to first.
Nevertheless, Dye's homer, three more consecutive hits and Alexei Ramirez's sacrifice fly capped the five-run rally. And the Sox added insurance on consecutive homers from Dye (his 18th career two-homer game) and Jim Thome (his second in as many games) in the seventh.
"It's always tough when we don't score early because the game is tight and you don't want to make a mistake that can cost you the game," Vazquez said. "But the guys hung in there."
Dye is 8-for-20 in his last four games from the cleanup spot he moved into May 12. Thome increased his career homer total to 516. email@example.com