Peavy (6-2) benefitted from an unusually cool June night in St. Louis and a special healing "concoction" made by White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider to get through seven innings on 90 pitches. Unfortunately, Peavy was matched up against hard-throwing Lance Lynn (10-2), who simply was a little better on this night via a career-high 12 strikeouts, just as Jon Lester was a little better back on April 28 in Peavy's 1-0 home loss to the Red Sox.
The only run of this contest came from Carlos Beltran, who was battling his own stomach virus, but felt healthy enough to launch an 0-1 Peavy fastball 442 feet with two outs in the third for his 19th home run. Peavy followed that blast with walks to Matt Holliday and Allen Craig, but struck out David Freese to end the threat.
That frame pretty much represented the lone scoring chance for St. Louis (32-31) against Peavy and reliever Nate Jones.
"He left some balls around the strike zone, and I was able to hit them good," said Beltran, who delivered three of the four hits Peavy allowed after almost being scratched five minutes before game time. "I was seeing the ball good today."
"Our guys [Peavy and Jones] were right there with them," said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko of this pitchers' battle.
Konerko had four groundouts in four at-bats on Wednesday, dropping his American League-leading batting average to .366. But his at-bat against Cardinals closer Jason Motte (12th save) in the ninth drew the biggest share of attention.
Alejandro De Aza opened the frame with a single off of shortstop Rafael Furcal's glove. After Gordon Beckham bunted him to second, Dayan Viciedo reached on an infield hit, but Furcal saved a run from scoring via a diving stop toward second base. It left runners on first and third with one out.
Motte fell behind in the count by a 3-1 margin, before getting Konerko to hit a cutter off the end of the bat for a 5-4-3 game-ending double play.
"We tried to come in with some heaters and got in too much. Then we threw one cutter for a strike. Then we ended up coming back in again," said Motte of the final at-bat. "Then, at 3-1, [Yadier Molina] called cutter. It was one of those things where he was probably geared up for a fastball. I can throw an offspeed pitch every once in a while, and it happened to work on that one. I got the groundball."
"At the end, you have your shot with the guy you want up there, and it just doesn't happen," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You get ready for tomorrow."
As good as this effort was for Lynn, who joined the Mets' R.A. Dickey as MLB's only 10-game winners, the White Sox (34-28) had their chances. Alex Rios opened the fifth with a triple to left-center, but Lynn struck out the side -- just as he did in the third.
A.J. Pierzynski, Alexei Ramirez and Peavy were the victims, with an Orlando Hudson intentional walk sandwiched in to get to Peavy.
"When Rios was on third, he was ramping it up more. More velocity," said Ventura of Lynn's fifth inning. "It's what good pitchers do."
"Obviously, when you got guys as hard to strikeout as A.J. up there trying to put the bat on the ball and he's not getting it done, that speaks a lot for the kid's stuff," Peavy said. "I was up there trying to shorten up and play pepper with the ball, and I couldn't hit it."
After allowing Hudson's one-out single in the eighth, Lynn was lifted at 112 pitches with Adam Dunn set to pinch-hit. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny went to left-hander Marc Rzepczynski, who Dunn clubbed for a 436-foot homer in Tuesday's victory.
Rzepczynski won this battle, inducing Dunn's inning-ending double play. Dunn hit the ball hard, but second baseman Daniel Descalso made a diving stop and started the double play.
This setback ended an eight-game road winning streak for the White Sox and dropped their Major League-best road record to 18-10. They maintained their 1 1/2 game lead in the American League Central over the Indians, who lost to the Reds for a second straight night.
While Peavy felt generally awful and Beltran played with stomach discomfort, Lynn dominated with back tightness.
It's a tough one-run battle for Peavy to lose, just like it was when he threw a second straight complete game back in late April.
"Losing is losing to me, I don't care how it happens," Peavy said. "It's just never easy. You hate to go out there and be almost good enough, and you feel good and not get it done. That's just part of the game."
"Both of them pitched great," Ventura said. "They're very similar. They're both great pitchers."