John Danks celebrated his 23rd birthday Tuesday with a much-welcomed transformation, and his teammates supplied some timely gifts.
Danks pitched the White Sox to a 4-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics, marking his first win since July 16, 2007 and halting a streak of 11 winless starts.
"He's fine. He's young," catcher Toby Hall said after Danks worked 7 2/3 shutout innings. "He's got a good demeanor and good stuff, and outings like that you just build on. Especially after that last outing he had, to come out there and do that was awesome."
The Sox won three of their final four games on this homestand behind a starting rotation that allowed two earned runs over its last 29 innings. The starters received support from an errorless defense on the seven-game homestand.
Alexei Ramirez, making his third start in center field, cut off Emil Brown's single in deep right center and made an accurate, off-balance throw to nail Brown at second for the first out of the second inning.
"I put my head down and took it for granted that it was going to be a double," third baseman Joe Crede said. "[Ramirez] threw a strike to second base."
Crede dived across the foul line to turn Mark Ellis' potential extra-base hit into the first out of the sixth, with help from first baseman Nick Swisher. Shortstop Orlando Cabrera followed by making a diving stop to retire Daric Barton.
And in the seventh, left fielder Carlos Quentin crashed into the left field fence to rob Brown of an extra-base hit.
"Stuff like that keeps the momentum going and keeps your pitcher in the game and makes him feel he can throw strikes and pitch to contact," Hall said.
The fielding support fueled Danks' confidence. In two of Danks' three starts this season, he has allowed one run on seven hits in 14 1/3 innings.
After Quentin launched a three-run home run in the fourth off left-hander Dana Eveland, Danks retired 11 of the next 12 batters.
"Last year, if I felt like I did [Tuesday], I probably wouldn't have made it out of the third or fourth inning," Danks said. "I would have tried to overthrow."
Danks walked two but never seemed to labor as he heeded Hall's advice to work quickly.
"When those guys are throwing strikes and keeping the infielders and outfielders on their toes, it definitely tells," Crede said.
Danks planned to celebrate his birthday Tuesday night in Baltimore with Gavin Floyd. The twosome have bolstered the Sox's rotation after entering the season with a combined 55 major league starts.
"When [Danks] is good, he's real good," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "When he's bad, he's really bad. That's a growing-up thing. That's experience."
White Sox 4, A's 1
Danks cruises, White Sox split with A's
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