Quentin powers red-hot White Sox past Braves

CHICAGO -- Two weeks ago, the Chicago White Sox could do little right. Now, everything seems to be going their way.

"This game is so much luck," Mark Buehrle said Wednesday night after he escaped numerous jams to beat the Atlanta Braves 4-2 for Chicago's eighth straight victory.

The team's 12th win in 13 games also included two home runs by Carlos Quentin -- the first of which barely cleared right fielder Jason Heyward's glove, struck the top of the wall and bounced into the bullpen.

Quentin also homered in Tuesday's series-opening win, a shot that came after a White Sox batter reached on an infield single when the ball got stuck in third baseman Brooks Conrad's shirt.

"Teams that are hot get some breaks," said Atlanta starter Tim Hudson, who allowed a season-high four earned runs despite outpitching Buehrle most of the night.

"We should have beat them," Hudson added. "They ended up doing just enough to beat us, but we had opportunities to score all night. You just have to tip your hat to Buehrle. He bobbed and weaved and made some big pitches when he needed to."

Lucky pitches, too.

Trailing 3-2 in the sixth, the Braves loaded the bases with one out but didn't score as Buehrle got Melky Cabrera and Omar Infante to pop out.

"I threw a 2-1 changeup [to Infante] and he should have crushed it," Buehrle said. "If luck wasn't going your way, he hits a double and we lose. Early in the season, I'd get in jams like that and wouldn't get out of them."

Although he allowed nine hits in six innings, Buehrle (6-6) earned his major league-record 23rd interleague victory. He is 9-0 with a 1.73 ERA in his last 12 starts against NL teams.

The longtime Chicago ace's season has mirrored his team's.

He had a 5.40 ERA after getting shelled by Cleveland on June 6 -- a loss that dropped the White Sox to 23-32 and 9 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Minnesota. Since then, Buehrle has allowed only four runs in winning three starts and the White Sox have pulled within 3 1/2 games of the Twins.

"I used to hate walking into [the postgame news conference]. Now I can't wait to come here," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, whose team is two games over .500 for the first time since last August. "This is the way we thought we were going to play. A lot of people think this is a fluke, but we've got a good ballclub."

The Braves entered the week as baseball's hottest team, with a 34-14 record since April 30, but consecutive defeats at U.S. Cellular Field guaranteed a losing series for the first time in their last 14.

Hudson (7-3), who allowed six hits in seven innings, started the game by retiring the first 10 batters in dominating fashion.

"He had great stuff," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "I really thought he was going to throw a shutout."

Omar Vizquel walked with one out in the fourth, advanced on a groundout and scored on Paul Konerko's single to make it 1-1. Two pitches later, Quentin hit his good-fortune homer.

After David Ross' fifth-inning single cut Chicago's lead to 3-2 and put runners on the corners, Buehrle struck out Martin Prado and Heyward.

Quentin led off the seventh with another homer, his 11th. Batting .200 just last week, he is on an 11-for-25 tear but said he hasn't really changed anything.

"Sometimes you hit, sometimes you don't," he said. "Sometimes you see the ball, sometimes you don't. Sometimes it's pitch to pitch. Let's just leave it at that."

J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton each pitched one hitless inning before Bobby Jenks worked the ninth for his 16th save in 17 attempts.

Jenks, who has converted 11 straight opportunities and has a 0.82 ERA in his last 12 appearances, moved past Roberto Hernandez into second place on Chicago's career saves list with 162.

Game notes
White Sox CF Alex Rios was ejected in the eighth inning by home plate umpire Andy Fletcher after arguing a called third strike. ... Chicago is 12-2 in interleague play this season, 36-14 the last three years. ... Vizquel got his 2,732nd hit, tying Tony Perez for 53rd on baseball's career list. ... Braves C Clint Sammons cleared waivers and was sent to Triple-A Gwinnett. ... Braves RHP Takashi Saito, fresh off the DL, pitched a scoreless eighth. ... The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 49 minutes by rain.