Coming off a rare win, the Chicago White Sox are hoping to keep things going behind Chris Sale .
Runs could be at a premium Thursday night when Sale takes the mound opposite Hellickson in the opener of a four-game set at U.S. Cellular Field.
After dropping four straight and 10 of their previous 13, the White Sox (8-12) salvaged a rain-shortened two-game split against Cleveland with Wednesday's 3-2 win. Jose Quintana pitched effectively into the sixth inning and Alex Rios hit his team-leading sixth homer.
"I'm happy about the victory," Quintana said. "We needed to get that win. It's a start. We need to keep it going through the next games."
Chicago now turns to Sale (1-2, 4.50 ERA), who's dropped his last two starts - both on the road. The left-hander was tagged for a career-high eight runs over 4 1-3 innings against the Indians on April 13, then surrendered three over seven frames last Thursday in a 3-1 loss to Toronto.
"So far so good," Sale told the team's official website. "I'm just following the plans that I have here. In the weight room and in the training room. Maybe doing a few different things. ... But my last four starts I felt good. Leading up to this one, I feel like I'm right on track."
Sale has to like his chances of bouncing back at home, where he's gone 9-1 with a 1.94 over 13 starts dating to last season. His only loss over that stretch came in a 10-4 defeat to the Rays on Sept. 29, during which he allowed five runs over 3 1-3 innings.
Sale was superb in his only other start versus Tampa Bay (10-11), striking out a career-best 15 over 7 1-3 innings in a 2-1 road win May 28.
Hellickson (1-1, 3.55) turned in an outstanding performance of his own Saturday, scattering three hits and striking out six over seven innings in a 1-0 victory over Oakland.
"Honestly, I felt as good this game as I had in the other games. As long as I think I'm making them string some hits together and making them keep the ball in the yard, I think I can do that a lot," he told MLB's official website. "I think the biggest thing was throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters."
Hellickson is 0-4 despite a 2.52 ERA over his last six road starts dating to August. He yielded three runs and a career worst-tying nine hits over 5 2-3 innings of a 3-1 loss at Chicago on Sept. 28 - his only appearance in the series.
Hellickson will try to build on Alex Cobb 's masterful performance in Wednesday's 3-0 victory over the New York Yankees . Cobb came within two outs of his second career shutout, leading the Rays to their fifth win in six games.
Tampa Bay has allowed just nine runs over that stretch while limiting the opposition to a .170 average.
That doesn't bode well for the White Sox, who despite winning Wednesday have scored just 10 runs while hitting .166 over their last five contests.
"Usually, you're going to see two to three guys probably struggle at any time. But when it's a group and you're not getting it done consistently, it's tough on everybody," manager Robin Ventura said. "Eventually, it moves on and you just keep playing. I guess that's why we have so many games. You just have to be patient enough to wait for it."
White Sox fans could be running out of patience with Adam Dunn , who's mired in a 1-for-38 slump and is batting .100. He's struck out 13 times while going hitless in 21 at-bats over his last six games against the Rays.
|Alejandro De Aza||3||.333||1||0||0||0||0||.333||1.000||.667|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|March 31, 2013||Juan Carlos Oviedo||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 28, 2013||Jeff Niemann||60-Day DL||Right shoulder surgery - out for season|
|March 24, 2013||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|Chicago White Sox|
|April 22, 2013||Hector Gimenez||Day-to-Day||Left shin|
|April 19, 2013||Dayan Viciedo||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|April 10, 2013||Gordon Beckham||15-Day DL||Fractured hamate bone, left wrist|
|April 10, 2013||Angel Sanchez||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|April 09, 2013||Gordon Beckham||Day-to-Day||Left game - nerve irritation, left wrist|
|March 22, 2013||Leyson Septimo||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
CHICAGO (AP) -- Chris Sale pitching at home and Adam Dunn starting to swing better added up to a win for the Chicago White Sox.
Sale overcame a shaky first two innings to combine with two relievers on a five-hitter and Dunn homered to lead the White Sox to a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night.
Sale (2-2) is 11-3 with a 2.26 ERA at home in 17 starts dating to the beginning of the 2012 season. He walked three over the first two innings, but settled down and won for the first time since opening day.
He allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, striking out seven and working around four walks.
Matt Lindstrom worked a scoreless eighth, then Addison Reed pitched the ninth for his seventh save in seven chances for Chicago.
"Tonight (Sale) worked his way through it and I think at the end you're looking at what you would expect, but with some little bumps in the road," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "The way he battled back is what you like seeing."
The White Sox also wouldn't mind seeing Dunn battle back.
Dunn, in a 7-for-70 slide coming in, hit a two-run homer in the sixth off Jeremy Hellickson (1-2) for a 5-2 lead. The White Sox designated hitter went 1 for 4, raising his average to .108.
"It's hard to sit here and tell everybody you feel good and the results aren't there, but I do feel good. I have felt good for the most part of the season," Dunn said. "Obviously the results aren't where I want them."
Desmond Jennings walked leading off the game and scored on Evan Longoria 's single. Sale then walked two more in the second, but only allowed Jose Lobaton 's solo home run in the fourth on his way to another win in Chicago.
"I think it's just like anything," Sale said. "You're a little more comfortable at your house and with the home crowd behind you."
Hellickson gave up five runs, five hits and four walks in six innings with eight strikeouts. Given the early lead, he allowed three runs in the first.
Alejandro De Aza doubled leading off and scored on Jeff Keppinger 's double. Alex Rios walked and, one out later, Paul Konerko singled in the go-ahead run. Conor Gillaspie followed with a sacrifice fly.
Chicago had totaled 10 runs in its previous five games, losing four of them.
"I'll take five. I like five," Ventura said. "Five's a good number for our pitching staff. If you get there it's a pretty good number."
Gillaspie was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Alexei Ramirez 's double into the left-field corner in the fourth. Longoria took the throw from Kelly Johnson and relayed to Lobaton at the plate.
Lobaton was 2 for 2 with a walk. His home run was his first since Aug. 22.
Hellickson's six-inning outing ended a three-game streak for Rays starters lasting at least eight innings. He said he felt comfortable during the second through the fifth innings, but it was the first (three runs) and the sixth (two) that hurt him.
"We got back into it and the home run took a little steam away from us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Their guy was good. Sale was very good. They just straight up beat us."
Over his last two starts, Hellickson had allowed two runs in 14 innings. He more than matched that early, continuing a trend of first-inning struggles.
Eight of the 15 runs Hellickson's given up this season have been in the first.
"It's kind of frustrating, but I feel good," Hellickson said. "I just need to throw better pitches."
Sale did that after a tough first two innings.
"I think the biggest thing was taking my frustration out of it. Things are going to happen," Sale said. "You can't throw confetti when you're going good and you can't kick yourself in the rear when you're going bad."
NOTES: Rays SS Yunel Escobar was not in the lineup a day after leaving a game against the Yankees in the seventh with tightness in his right hamstring. Maddon said he is unlikely to play Friday. ... Chicago started four left-handed batters. Lefties entered hitting .278 against Hellickson, righties just .111. ... Thursday was the Rays' first game since April 15 against a team that didn't reach last year's playoffs. ... White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham said his left hand "feels fine" and is hoping he will be back before his expected return in six weeks. Beckham had surgery last week for a broken hamate bone, injured April 9 in Washington. ... Roberto Hernandez (1-3, 4.74 ERA) starts for Tampa Bay on Friday against Chicago's Jake Peavy (2-1, 3.20). ... Maddon brought a gnome modeled after him on the road for Tampa Bay's trip. The gnomes were a giveaway for Wednesday's game at Tampa Bay.