Garland wins his 10th

Garland wins his 10th

SAN DIEGO -- Jon Garland didn't have a long friends and family ticket list to attend to prior to the White Sox's 4-2 victory over San Diego on Friday night in front of 38,126 at PETCO Park.

Those close to the right-hander, who chose not make the three-hour trip from the San Fernando Valley, missed Garland's transformation from road weary to road warrior and also lost the opportunity to witness Garland's 10th victory of the season. Garland sits two victories way from equaling a single-season career high, but becoming the second double-digit winner in baseball (joining Florida's Dontrelle Willis) and first in the American League didn't seem to move the unflappable 25-year-old.

"It doesn't feel any different," said Garland, who improved to 10-2 this season and 56-53 for his career. "I want to go out and give my team a chance. Things have gone my way this year, and hopefully they continue to go this way."

"To pitch that game, against that team is fantastic," added manager Ozzie Guillen of Garland. "The way he pitched today was great. Jon went back to being Jon this outing."

Garland used his right arm for most of the victorious effort, fanning four over seven innings, while allowing one run on six hits. He also added a run-scoring single during a two-run second, marking his second career hit and first RBI.

But Garland didn't win his second straight start without a little help from his defense and possibly a minor assist from third-base umpire Marty Foster. Leading 3-0 in the seventh, following A.J. Pierzynski's ninth home run in the top of the inning off of Woody Williams (2-4), the Padres (35-26) put together one solid stretch of offense with four straight hits.

Even with that run, the Padres only managed to score once on Brian Giles' ninth home run to start the rally. Phil Nevin and Ramon Hernandez followed with singles to center, with the second hit failing to come up for the sure-handed Aaron Rowand as expected, and bouncing briefly behind the White Sox center fielder.

Nevin tried to make the move to third, but Rowand recovered and fired a strike to Joe Crede. The throw clearly beat Nevin, although the Padres' first baseman felt as if Crede missed the tag. Foster thought differently.

Robert Fick followed with a double to right, but instead of bringing home a run, it left runners on second and third with two outs.

"When I looked up and saw he decided to go, I knew I had a chance to get him," Rowand said of the play on Nevin.

"I know it was close, but I couldn't see what it was," Guillen added. "The good thing about it was Rowand never gave up."

Luckily for Garland, Rowand didn't give up on Khalil Greene's line drive to left-center that would have scored the tying runs. His sprawling grab kept the White Sox in control, en route to their fourth straight victory on this road trip, and improved their Major League-best record to 41-19. With Minnesota's 6-5 loss in Los Angeles, the White Sox also increased their American League Central lead to 5 1/2 games.

"After each start, I tell you guys that I live and die by defense," said Garland, who felt as if he left some pitches up in the seventh, after yielding two harmless hits over the first 6 1/3 innings. "Rowand picked me up huge."

The defense didn't stop when Garland exited, though, as Crede came up with two sterling dives and throws on ninth-inning ground balls in support of Dustin Hermanson. The Padres scored one unearned run, but Hermanson prevailed for his 15th save in 15 opportunities.

Garland turned around a rough stretch of road starts, in which he had allowed 20 hits and 10 earned runs over 13 innings during back-to-back losses in Anaheim and Texas. Garland joked that a larger number of family members made the trip to see him pitch against the Angels on May 23, which is why they didn't return to San Diego.

His next start is Wednesday against Arizona at U.S. Cellular Field. Garland has a 5-0 record with a 2.39 earned run average during five home starts, so it looks safe for the family to return. It's also fairly safe to consider Garland an American League All-Star, even if the right-hander won't confirm the notion.

"If it happens, it happens," said Garland of making the All-Star Game. "If it doesn't, it doesn't."

"He's always had this in him," added Rowand of Garland. "He's at a point where he doesn't make as many mistakes and is more consistent in hitting his spots. It's nice for him to come around the way he has this season. He's a big reason why we are where we are at."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.