STILL HAV­ING A BLAST

Sox hit four more homers to sweep Pi­rates for 9th win in last 10 games

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - dvan­schouwen@sun­times.com | @CST_­sox­van DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN

One day af­ter the no-hit­ter, the siz­zling White Sox did not let up.

They went back to slug­ging homers and got an­other strong start from Dal­las Keuchel, who felt a bit drained on a hot day af­ter stay­ing up too late the night be­fore.

The re­sult was a 10-3 vic­tory over the Pi­rates on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon to com­plete a sweep of their two-game se­ries at Guar­an­teed Rate Field, giv­ing the Sox nine wins in their last 10 games. Danny Men­dick, Ed­win En­car­na­cion, Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu each home­red in the team’s sixth game with four or more homers, a ma­jor-league high.

Abreu home­red for the sev­enth time in five games and Jimenez, look­ing fine af­ter tweak­ing his an­kle cel­e­brat­ing Lu­cas Gi­olito’s no­hit­ter, hit an op­po­site field three­run shot in the fifth in­ning, the last of three against Pi­rates starter Trevor Williams.

“We’ve got four or five MVP can­di­dates and that’s pretty scary,” Keuchel said.

“This is what we knew we had and it’s been nice. In about the last 10 games, qual­ity at-bat af­ter qual­ity at-bat. That’s not fun for the op­pos­ing pitch­ers.”

Keuchel al­lowed a sin­gle to Pi­rates lead­off man Cole Tucker on the first pitch of the game, quickly elim­i­nat­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of fol­low­ing Gi­olito with a no-hit­ter of his own, but he pitched six in­nings of two-run ball, al­low­ing four hits and three walks — all in the sixth

when two runs scored on Ja­cob Stallings’ sin­gle — while strik­ing out seven. Keuchel hasn’t had a bad start yet, and he’ll take a 5-2 record and 2.70 ERA into his next out­ing Tues­day against the Twins.

Nor­mally, on the night be­fore he’s sched­uled to pitch a day game, Keuchel would have left half­way through to get some rest. But watch­ing Gi­olito on Tues­day was a must, and Keuchel also in­sisted on stick­ing around for the postgame fun.

“There was no way I was go­ing to go home af­ter the game, be­cause I want to feel what Gi­olito feels and that’s pure bliss,” Keuchel said.

Open­ing the sec­ond half of the 60game sea­son, the Sox (19-12) are bliss­fully putting it to­gether in all phases. They’ve hit 59 homers, which leads the Amer­i­can League, and go­ing into Wed­nes­day’s game, they lead the ma­jors with 19 de­fen­sive runs saved, ac­cord­ing to Sports Info So­lu­tions. It’s a rad­i­cal change from last sea­son when they ranked in the bot­tom third in most de­fen­sive cat­e­gories. Sox start­ing pitch­ers’ ERA since July 29 is 2.60.

“Guys feed­ing off each other, com­ing to the ball­park com­ing to play,” Keuchel said.

Jimenez has 10 homers and 24 RBI and Abreu, the AL Player of the Week last week, has 12 homers and 30 RBI. Abreu has a 10-game hit­ting streak, Jimenez a seven-game streak. En­car­na­cion’s homer was 436 feet and he also dou­bled, and Yoan Mon­cada hit two dou­bles.

“Any­body in the lineup can do dam­age or have the hit to win the ball­game,” Jimenez said. “I don’t care if I’m 0-for-4, be­cause I know my team­mates are go­ing to re­spond for me. And when that hap­pens for them, I try to re­spond for them. It’s good.”

“When you have po­ten­tial power hit­ters go­ing the op­po­site way, will­ing to go the op­po­site way against the shifts, both in the air and on the ground, that’s when you know you’re prob­a­bly in for a world of hurt,” Keuchel said.

“Guys want to keep it go­ing,” man­ager Rick Ren­te­ria said. “They don’t want to be the guy that fal­ters. They want to be the guy that con­tin­ues to have it mov­ing for­ward. It hap­pens in ei­ther case, whether it’s pitch­ing or hit­ting.

“When you have a group of guys that are con­fi­dent and will­ing to do a lot for each other, I think it’s a good mix. It’s a good pot of stew that’s got a great fla­vor.”

NAM Y. HUH/AP

Eloy Jimenez (top) slugs a three-run home run in the fifth, and Jose Abreu (bot­tom) cel­e­brates his two-run shot in the sev­enth.

NAM Y. HUH/AP/AP

Danny Men­dick (top) hits a two-run home run in the sec­ond in­ning, and Ed­win En­car­na­cion (bot­tom) cel­e­brates his solo shot to lead off the fourth.

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