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Sox pitching easing GM's concerns

SEATTLE --If White Sox pitching continues to look like this, general manager Ken Williams doesn’t have to worry about adding an arm at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

John Danks was dominating for the second time in three starts, giving up just two hits over 7 2/3 innings in a 4-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners. Before Ichiro Suzuki singled to center field with two outs in the eighth inning, the only hit Danks had allowed was an infield single from Casey Kotchman in the second inning.

After an efficient first inning, when Danks set down the Mariners in order he thought he would be even better than he actually was.

“If you would have told me after the first inning that I was going to walk two on four pitches, I would have called you a liar, but I felt good,” said Danks, who ended up walking four in the game. “It was a good game. We scored some runs, and us as a staff, we were able to shut them out.’’

J.J Putz got one out in the eighth inning to set a franchise record for scoreless appearances at 25. Bobby Jenks had his first outing since taking the loss Sunday at Minnesota and pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Manager Ozzie Guillen said he didn’t even know that Putz was on the verge of a team record, even laughing when he learned a franchise that has been around as long as the White Sox only had record scoreless streak of 24.

“When you’re managing, you go out there and put the best guys out there,” Guillen said. “But I’m very happy for him. He’s helping us a lot. He’s made our bullpen a lot better. That’s why he’s got the ball because I don’t want to take a chance about one mistake and all of a sudden it’s a tie game.”

Rumors that Williams’ primary focus is on adding left-handed slugger Adam Dunn to the mix indicates that he likes what he sees from his starting staff. It isn’t believed that the White Sox have enough resources to add both a hitter and a pitcher at the deadline.

It was shades of Danks’ second to last outing before the All-Star break when he pitched a two-hitter against the Los Angeles Angels.

That seven-start stretch into early June when Danks was 1-5 with a 5.05 ERA appears to be a thing of the past. Over his last eight starts he is 6-2 with a 3.07 ERA.

As has been the case for a month now, the defense did its part as well. Omar Vizquel made two stops to his left on hard-hit ground balls in the late innings, and shortstop Alexi Ramirez went into the hole in the ninth and threw out Jose Lopez at first base while falling away toward the left-field line.

“Some people say that defense wins ballgames and I think we have been playing some pretty good defense," Vizquel said. "The pitchers are doing a pretty good job of keeping the ball down. I think that is the most important thing. When they make the right pitch, we can do our job. Things are happening, we’re turning double plays, we’re making the routine play and I think that is really important."

Despite the loss of Jake Peavy to a season-ending injury during the last homestand before the break, the starts keep chugging along. The rotation is now 22-7 with a 2.53 ERA and 31 quality starts over the last 37 games.

“We were all hyped up to be a top three rotation in all of baseball and came out and were one of the worst in baseball,” Danks said. “We’re happy with where we’re at right now, we’re going out there to try and win every game, and so far, so good.’’

By the numbers

5: Victories in five tries against the Mariners this season. The last time the White Sox won five consecutive games over the Mariners was in 2004 when they went on to win six consecutive. Over his last four starts against the Mariners, Danks is 3-0 with a 1.07 ERA.

Quote

“I’m not even really worried about it. I just wanted to go out there and give the team the best chance to win and get the ball to Bobby. That’s the bottom line. I didn’t really know about it until yesterday.” -- Putz on his 25th scoreless appearance, the White Sox record for most consecutive without allowing a run.


Look ahead

Gavin Floyd (5-8, 4.10) will have his hands full in Wednesday’s series final at Seattle when he takes on the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez (7-6, 2.90), whose nearly .500 record is more a product of a lack of run support. Hernandez has four complete games, the most recent July 10 against the Yankees and he leads the American League with 17 quality starts. Floyd is on a turnaround of his own, posting an AL-best 1.30 ERA since June 8. He is just 3-2 over that stretch, though.