"All the boys came in from batting practice saying, 'Keep it down, Peav.' But at the same time, you can't go out and be any different. You have to attack the zone and you can't be scared."
Attack Peavy (5-1) did, just as the White Sox did all weekend against the overmatched Cubs (15-26).
With extra security measures strictly enforced because of the NATO Summit taking place this weekend in Chicago, there weren't too many brooms visible at Wrigley Field by the time White Sox fans were chanting "Sweep! Sweep!" as reliever Addison Reed recorded the final out. Those brooms weren't necessary to punctuate the White Sox first three-game sweep at Wrigley since June 11-13, 1999, which gave the White Sox an 18-6 edge in the last 24 games played between the two clubs.
Aside from Friday's competitive battle, the White Sox absolutely dominated the North Siders. Trailing, 7-0, on Saturday, the Cubs managed to score four runs in the ninth on a pair of two-run homers off Zach Stewart. On Sunday, the Cubs had one legitimate scoring chance over 6 1/3 otherwise uneventful innings against Peavy.
In the fourth inning, with the White Sox holding a 2-0 lead, Starlin Castro singled, and Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart walked to load the bases with two outs. But Adrian Cardenas, who entered the contest hitting .077, popped up weakly to shortstop Alexei Ramirez to end the inning.
Peavy gave up just three hits, struck out seven and walked two. He even helped out with the bat during a two-run seventh to knock Paul Maholm (4-3) from the game, driving in his first run since March 31, 2008, on a fielder's choice and then scoring on Gordon Beckham's sacrifice fly to right.
"He did a good job keeping us off balance and getting us out," said LaHair of Peavy, who exited after throwing 70 of his 100 pitches for strikes. "I didn't get too many pitches to hit, so he kept the ball away."
"Our game plan was quality strikes early," said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers. "He executed that and he was able to put them away. He made pitches throughout pretty much every at-bat."
While Peavy kept the ball down and neutralized the wind blowing out at 12 mph, the long ball propelled the White Sox attack. Beckham and Dunn hit back-to-back homers to start the fourth, and Flowers crushed one on to Waveland Avenue leading off the fifth. It was No. 4 for Beckham and No. 2 for Flowers, while Dunn picked up his 14th this season and second in two games.
Dunn didn't hit a homer over 94 at-bats against left-handed pitching in 2011, producing just six hits overall against southpaws. According to STATS LLC, in Dunn's last 12 at-bats against leftys, he has five hits, three of which are homers. Dunn reached base in eight of his last 11 plate appearances, via six walks and two homers.
"Obviously, he's a great power hitter, but if you look at our career numbers, I've got the advantage over him," said Maholm of Dunn, who was 3-for-28 with 12 strikeouts against him prior to Sunday's game. "I usually look forward to him coming to the plate. I made a mistake and he made me pay for it. That's what good power guys do."
"I'm just trying to have good at-bats each at-bat," Dunn said. "I feel like I've had good at-bats lately."
This victory matched the White Sox season-high winning streak at four games, done for a third time, and moved them back to .500 at 21-21, as they reached the .500 mark for the first time since May 2 at 12-12. They also sit alone in second place in the American League Central, just 2 1/2 games behind the Indians.
After the victory, the White Sox posed on the field with the Crosstown Cup that they won by virtue of the sweep. The White Sox retain possession even if they are swept at U.S. Cellular Field in June and end the season series at 3-3 because they won it last year.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura proudly displayed the Cup, with pitching coach Don Cooper standing to his right holding a White Sox No. 99 jersey with Hickey across the back. The White Sox will continue to mourn the loss of their friend and teammate Kevin Hickey, who died at 56 years old on Wednesday. There will be a visitation for Hickey on Monday and a funeral mass on Tuesday.
Later on Tuesday, the White Sox will return home to take on the Twins and hope to turn these weekend bragging rights into an extended winning streak.
"Hopefully these last four games show what we're capable of, battling through some tough spots," Peavy said.
"Interleague is kind of a change of pace for everyone, especially with a rivalry with the Cubs," said Dunn, whose team has a 48-39 edge over the Cubs all-time. "It kind of adds a little extra incentive. For us to come out and play well for three games was kind of the icing on the cake."