CHICAGO -- Drew Pomeranz threw seven innings of one-run ball and benefited from a four-run sixth inning as the Red Sox knocked off the White Sox, 4-1, and claimed a series victory at Guaranteed Rate Field on Wednesday night.
It was the second consecutive strong start for Pomeranz, who has allowed just three runs over his last two starts while striking out 19 batters in 13 innings.
"It was kind of a continuation of the last one, to be honest," said Pomeranz. "I felt pretty good with four pitches out there. I worked all week on just repeating what I did the start before, and tried to bring it into this start. I actually felt better this time than the last one, which is nice. I felt pretty comfortable out there even in some of those tight spots."
White Sox right-hander Mike Pelfrey missed an opportunity to pick up his third consecutive win for the first time since 2010 despite tossing five scoreless innings while allowing two hits on a tidy 83 pitches. Pelfrey has allowed two runs over 16 innings over the course of those outings, and he was held to 86 or fewer pitches each time. Pelfrey received an early lead in the second as Tim Anderson doubled home Avisail Garcia, but that was all Chicago would get off Pomeranz.
The White Sox bullpen, which entered the day ranking second-best in the American League with a 2.96 ERA, gave up the lead. It marked the first time all season Chicago had lost a game in which it had led after five innings -- making them the last team in the Majors to do so this season.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria said the plan all along was for Pelfrey to go five innings before turning the ball over to the bullpen. Pelfrey has struggled going through the order multiple times this season, with batters slashing .556/.571/1.278 their third time through the order against him. Opponents are also hitting .450/.500/1.100 this season once Pelfrey passes 76 pitches.
"When I was a lot younger, I definitely didn't like coming out of the game and always had something to say," Pelfrey said on being taken out. "Maybe that's a little selfish. I know that in Anaheim he left me in there, and it ended up costing us. I just go out there and give you whatever I have until you say enough's enough and move on."
Playing his first game since coming off the disabled list, Pablo Sandoval had three hits for the Red Sox, including a bloop RBI single to left that snapped a 1-1 tie in the sixth. It was the eighth win in the last 10 games for Boston heading into a four-game series in Baltimore.
Pomeranz overcame the early deficit to earn his second consecutive win, scattering seven hits and walking none while striking out eight on 108 pitches. He received a boost in the sixth, as four runs came across against White Sox reliever Anthony Swarzak, who had allowed three runs in 23 1/3 innings entering Wednesday.
"Inside tonight we capitalized on a couple miscues," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "An overthrow, a wild pitch, we're running the bases aggressive. And not with reckless abandon, but with some aggressiveness that's chipped in to adding 90 feet or put us in position to tack on an additional run. So we're being opportunistic."
The series win over Chicago marked the third straight for Boston, and capped off a 16-12 month of May.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Game of inches: Swarzak replaced Pelfrey in the sixth inning up 1-0 and loaded the bases with one out on a pair of singles and an intentional walk of Jackie Bradley Jr. Swarzak appeared to roll a double-play ball against Josh Rutledge to get out of it, but Anderson's throw was barely late and the tying run scored. Boston would score thrice more in the inning on Sandoval's bloop single -- which Statcast™ said had an exit velocity of 67.7 mph -- and a two-run double from Christian Vazquez.
"I feel like I made some quality pitches, but at the same time, I didn't put guys away when I had the opportunity to," Swarzak said. "It's extremely unfortunate, because I really believe that if I throw up a zero right there, we're going to go on to win that game, 1-0. That wasn't the case. Some balls fell in and I couldn't put the ball past somebody when I really needed to. The result was four runs."
Keep it rolling: The White Sox threatened to rally back in the sixth against Pomeranz as Todd Frazier and Avisail Garcia led the inning off with singles to bring the tying run to the plate. Pitching coach Carl Willis came out to talk to Pomeranz, who subsequently got out of the inning with a popout, a strikeout and a savvy forceout throw at third base to keep the lead at three.
"That was big," said Pomeranz. "I felt pretty good out there, so I had that extra gear to throw it in to get out of those jams."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Right-handed hitters are now 0-for-45 against Craig Kimbrel this season. Boston's red-hot closer struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 15th save in 16 opportunities.
"Yeah, nothing is ever given or automatic, but he's pretty darn close right now," said Farrell. "It's efficient. It's two wipeout pitches. It's fun to see."
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Red-hot lefty Eduardo Rodriguez opens a four-game series in Baltimore on Thursday night. Rodriguez has reeled off seven consecutive quality starts. A former Orioles prospect, Rodriguez has thrived in his career at Camden Yards, going 3-1 with a 1.34 ERA in six starts. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
White Sox: Chicago will have a day off Thursday then travel to Detroit to face the Tigers on Friday at 6:10 p.m. CT in a three-game set as the two teams continue a stretch of seven games against each other in a two-week span. The White Sox will send team ERA leader Derek Holland (4-4, 2.37 ERA) to the mound to face a team he held to a run on six hits Saturday.