Chicago White Sox Closing in on AL Central Lead After Win Over Rangers

Chicago White Sox Closing in on AL Central Lead After Win Over Rangers ARLINGTON, Texas – The Chicago White Sox were buried in the AL Central standings a month ago, 9 1/2 games off the lead.

They've certainly turned things around. Since being in that position on June 9, the streaking White Sox have pulled within a game of division leaders Minnesota and Detroit. Alexei Ramirez hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the sixth inning to lead the White Sox to a 5-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Sunday night.

"A couple weeks ago, we didn't know what to do with this ballclub," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said after taking two of three from the AL West-leading Rangers.

Chicago has won 18 of 23 to get right back in it.

"A lot of people lost faith in this ballclub," Guillen said. "So we've turned around and proved a lot of people wrong. We touched the bottom very bad, but we stuck together and that showed me a lot about this team."

Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin hit back-to-back doubles in the sixth to tie it at 3 for Chicago. Two outs later, Ramirez lined a homer off starter Scott Feldman (5-8).

Mark Buehrle (7-7) won for the fourth time in five starts to even his record for the first time since April 21. He allowed three runs – including homers by Josh Hamilton and Julio Borbon – and five hits over seven innings.

Buehrle improved his career record against Texas to 12-5 with a 3.42 ERA, holding down a lineup that led the majors in June with a .311 average and 178 runs.

"This was a big test for us," Buehrle said. "You look at that lineup, it seemed everybody was hitting .300. It was a good challenge for our pitching staff to come in and mow these guys down with quality starts in all three games."

Matt Thornton, who earned his first All-Star berth, got three outs for his fifth save in seven chances. He was subbing for regular closer Bobby Jenks, who came off the bereavement list on Friday after missing almost a week and is working to get back into game shape.

Guillen said Jenks should be available Monday night for the opener of a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels.

Hamilton homered for Texas to extend his home hitting streak to 24 games, second-longest in club history. His two-run shot in the fourth after Vladimir Guerrero singled gave Texas a 2-1 lead. Hamilton had been tied at 23 straight game with Michael Young (2009) and Ivan Rodriguez (1995). Al Oliver's 30-game streak in 1981 is the Rangers' home record.

Hamilton and Guerrero were voted as starters for the AL All-Star team announced earlier Sunday.

White Sox pitching limited the Rangers to seven runs in the three-game series.

"We're not pressing, we've just cooled off with the bats and we're not holding onto a lead when we get it," Hamilton said. "We're leaving some runners on base. Hopefully we can pick things up again."

Feldman allowed five runs – four earned – and eight hits in six innings for the Rangers, who have lost four of six.

Of Chicago's 24 hits in the first two games of the series, 22 were singles and two were doubles. This time, four of the nine hits for the White Sox went for extra bases.

"Clutch hitting is what was missing," Guillen said. "For the last 2 1/2 weeks, we've had big hits in the right situations, with people on base."

Chicago got an unearned run in the second when Quentin reached on third baseman Young's throwing error, and scored on Mark Kotsay's double.

After Hamilton's 20th homer of the season sent Texas in front in the fourth, Chicago tied it at 2 in the fifth on rookie Dayan Viciedo's RBI groundout.

Borbon's one-out solo homer in the fifth put Texas back ahead 3-2.

Chicago third baseman Omar Vizquel left in the third inning after being hit by a pitch from Feldman. He was struck by a fastball in the left knee and rolled to the ground in pain with what was later diagnosed as a bruise following negative X-rays.

He was examined on the field by White Sox medical personnel before walking slowly to the dugout and was replaced by Viciedo. The White Sox said Vizquel would be evaluated Monday in Chicago.

The Rangers played their 81st game, reaching the midway point of the season at 48-33, their second-best record in club history at that point. The 1996 team was 49-32. … The White Sox completed a 3-3 trip with their 80th game. … Rangers rookie 1B Justin Smoak went 0 for 3 and is hitless in his last 23 at-bats. … Ramirez was 8 for 12 in the three-game series. … Texas RHP Alexi Ogando pitched a scoreless ninth, stretching his scoreless streak at the start of his big league career to 11 innings.

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