CHICAGO -- For the second straight start, Jeff Samardzija flirted with a no-hitter. But in the matter of Thursday afternoon's effort against the Blue Jays, the right-hander finished on the winning end of a 2-0 White Sox victory at U.S. Cellular Field. Chicago took three of four from Toronto and will take a 7-2 record over its last nine games into this weekend's first-half finale at Wrigley Field.
R.A. Dickey almost matched Samardzija pitch-for-pitch until the sixth. Adam Eaton opened the frame with a triple to right-center, and after Jose Abreu struck out, Eaton came home on Russell Martin's passed ball. Melky Cabrera followed with a home run to right for the two-run cushion. Dickey fanned six and walked two over seven innings. More >
Samardzija has now gone at least seven innings in seven straight starts and in 10 of his last 11. He has made eight quality starts in that run, and he struck out five and walked one on Wednesday. Samardzija didn't allow a hit until Ryan Goins' one-out single in the sixth.
"Felt good out there, just pounding the zone, attacking the lineup," said Samardzija, who threw 108 pitches in the shutout. "You can't take a pitch off. Just got to keep attacking them and getting those two runs, and the amazing defense behind me today helped out a lot." More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Web gems:Carlos Sanchez took a hit away from Martin with one out in the second inning, ranging up the middle to grab a ground ball and then making a strong jump-throw to first. Gordon Beckham then robbed Goins in the eighth on a diving play in the hole at shortstop, with help from a great scoop by Adam LaRoche at first. More >
Low battery: The pairing of Dickey and Martin hasn't gone as smoothly as most people expected this year. The issues resurfaced in the sixth inning after Eaton's leadoff triple. Dickey gave himself a chance by striking out Abreu, but Martin was then charged with a passed ball, which allowed the game's first run to score. Cabrera then followed later in that same at-bat with a solo shot to right.
Turning two: After Goins ended Samardzija's no-hit bid with one out in the sixth, Devon Travis followed with a single past third baseman Conor Gillaspie to put runners on first and third. But Samardzija quickly got out of trouble by inducing an inning-ending double play from Josh Donaldson.
"It happens," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Against guys like him, you get very few opportunities. … [Donaldson's] been our top hitter, he got him a couple of times, so tip your hat to him for that."
"There's no reason we can't play good enough baseball to get back into this thing. That's the goal, to play playoff baseball. We're going to continue to put the best out there and let the chips fall where they may. I truly believe we have the talent to win in this clubhouse." -- Eaton, on his team's 7-2 run
"Obviously, losing three out of four isn't ideal. Nobody is pretending that we're going to coast into the playoffs. We've got our work cut out for us, moving forward with Kansas City going into the break. It's not getting any easier, but we have a good ballclub and I believe in it." -- Dickey, on the disappointing series in Chicago
THE PICTURE OF CONSISTENCY
Abreu singled in the fourth to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. In his two-year big league career, Abreu already has five hitting streaks of 10 games or more.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Blue Jays (44-44) are back at .500 for the first time since they were 30-30 on June 9. Toronto has dropped eight of its last 11 games.
"We've been a very resilient ballclub," Dickey said of the recent stretch. "We've put 11-game winning streaks together, we've fallen off the table a little bit, we jumped back on. That's one thing about this team that I feel is a little bit different than the teams in the past. I don't think it's going to be a snowball kind of thing for us here. I think we have an offense that won't let that happen, and our pitching is getting better. I feel good about that part of it."
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: The Blue Jays will continue their three-city road trip when they open a series against the Royals on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. ET with right-hander Marco Estrada taking the mound for Toronto vs. lefty Danny Duffy. Estrada allowed two earned runs during his last outing vs. Detroit, but he also completed just five innings because of a high pitch count.
White Sox:Carlos Rodon takes the mound on Friday at 3:05 p.m. CT for the final series of the first half and his first appearance at Wrigley Field. The rookie is limiting left-handed hitters to a .209 average with no home runs allowed.