Youk's homer hands Sox sweep of Texas

Youk's homer hands Sox sweep of Texas

Youk's homer hands Sox sweep of Texas
CHICAGO -- The White Sox beat the 99-degree searing heat at first pitch on Thursday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field.

They beat the rain, thunder and lightning with Addison Reed on the mound in the ninth inning, closing out a 2-1 victory over the Rangers. And with this win covering a mere two hours and nine minutes, the White Sox (45-37) completed the first sweep of the Rangers (50-33) in a series of three games or more by any team since June 14-16, 2011, at Yankee Stadium.

In ending the two-time defending American League champions' streak of 52 series without being swept, the White Sox also completed a 5-2 run against arguably the AL's top two teams in the Yankees and Rangers.

So, does that success put the AL Central leaders in the same elite baseball stratosphere? The one-day-at-a-time White Sox weren't about to pass such judgment.

"We can play with anybody," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura after his team earned its sixth sweep of the season. "Somebody else is going to have to describe that. We just keep playing. You go up against a team like that, and it was big to get the first two. This one was definitely a bonus."

"You don't make too much of it," said Paul Konerko, who served as the White Sox designated hitter in the series finale. "I know teams have caught us when we didn't have it going and got us good. So I don't think we really think about who it's against as much as we're just happy to get the wins."

This particular win was accomplished against Matt Harrison (11-4), who figures to be in consideration to start Tuesday's All-Star Game for the AL, along with Tigers righty Justin Verlander and White Sox lefty Chris Sale, but Harrison had his seven-game winning streak snapped on Thursday. The left-hander pitched well, allowing just two runs on eight hits and striking out five during the complete-game effort.

White Sox starter Jose Quintana (4-1) was even better.

After giving up six runs in six innings during his last start, against the Yankees, Quintana shut down the Rangers on two hits and one walk over eight innings. He fanned a career-high eight, didn't allow a runner to advance past first base after the fourth and improved to 3-0 with a 2.04 ERA over his last five starts.

The only run Quintana allowed came in the fourth, when Adrian Beltre's line drive off the pitcher's left thigh bounced past first baseman Kevin Youkilis and scored Ian Kinsler from second base. Otherwise, the Rangers couldn't do much against the rookie.

"He showed some poise out there on the mound and kept us off balance," Texas manager Ron Washington said of Quintana. "The way he changed speeds, the way he used his offspeed stuff, secondary stuff, moved his fastball around."

"Definitely they're one of the best lineups in baseball, but I just go out there and do the same thing each time," Quintana said through translator and manager of cultural development Jackson Miranda. "I just try to do my best and also throw my best pitches for strikes."

Alexei Ramirez's groundout to Beltre at third with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth tied the game at 1, and Youkilis delivered once again leading off the sixth. Youkilis launched a 1-1 Harrison pitch out to right, his second homer with the White Sox and sixth overall this season.

A big-game player such as Youkilis seems to have a knack for coming up with these game-winning or game-changing hits. That fact has played true over the last two days for the White Sox.

"I hope he has more of a knack for it," said Ventura of Youkilis. "He's been on good teams, so he's not going to find himself in situations he hasn't been in already."

"Some days it's going to be a good hit, and some days it's not going to matter," Youkilis said. "You want to have good hits all the time, but sometimes it works where it's a clutch hit, and sometimes it's early in the game. The clutch hit is magnified more. You just want to go up and have good at-bats."

With rain coming down hard and lightning flashing off in the distance, Reed finished his 12th save in 13 opportunities by striking out Elvis Andrus. The victory pushed the White Sox, who continue to prove they are more than a first-half surprise, to a season-high eight games over .500.

A starting three in the rotation of Jake Peavy, Sale and Quintana would match up against just about any team in a short playoff series, and the White Sox have a more consistent offense from top to bottom with Youkilis in place. The team proved its mettle once again over the past week, but just don't ask the White Sox to look for any deeper meaning than five victories strung together.

"Confidence booster, for sure," Reed said. "Any time this team comes in, it's big just to win the series. To sweep them is that much better."

"Every one of these guys believes in each other and knows that we can go out and beat anybody on any given day," said Peavy, who will start Friday's series opener against the Blue Jays after finishing second to Rangers righty Yu Darvish in the AL Final Vote competition. "The rest -- that's for you guys to talk about, how good we are. We know how good we are."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.