White Sox end Rays' streak, gain on Tigers

White Sox end Rays' streak, gain on Tigers

White Sox end Rays' streak, gain on Tigers
CHICAGO -- Ryan Doumit instantly has become one of Chicago's favorite sons.

That fact holds true at least on the South Side of the city.

The Twins' designated hitter drove in all four runs during a victory over the Tigers at Target Field on Friday night, which took place while the White Sox (83-74) ended a three-game losing streak and stopped the Rays' eight-game winning run by virtue of a 3-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field. This combination of Doumit's power and the White Sox evening this four-game set at one apiece pushed the host squad within one game of the American League Central-leading Tigers (84-73) with five games to play.

And while the White Sox have vowed to take one game at a time and take care of only their business, they couldn't help but notice the Tigers' score on Friday. It was the 25,264 in attendance who provided the helping hand.

When the score was posted in the fifth inning at U.S. Cellular, after Doumit connected for a two-run homer off Phil Coke, the crowd cheered with approval. When the score was updated to reflect Doumit's tiebreaking double in the seventh, the applause went up again.

The biggest reaction came when the 4-2 final was posted in the top of the eighth after a long wait for the score to appear on the right field out-of-town scoreboard. Manager Robin Ventura quipped that those sorts of impromptu cheers around the stadium are reserved for Chicago Bears' touchdowns, but quickly added that he knew the Bears weren't playing on this night.

White Sox team captain Paul Konerko makes a point of not looking at the scoreboard during the course of the game, especially at this time of year, and especially with the White Sox situation. He couldn't help but notice the raucous response for the Twins' final.

"On the last one, I knew it was a win for Minnesota," Konerko said. "So, at that point, I looked up and saw that. Finally, we had a good night where we put together a good game and won and picked up a game here."

A wild survival act from Gavin Floyd (11-11) and strong bullpen work helped the White Sox win for just the second time in the last 10 games. Even with that dismal run, the White Sox still have postseason life.

Floyd worked five innings for the victory, but threw 105 pitches, striking out six and walking five. He allowed the first two runners to reach base in the second, walked two with one out in the third and went to three three-ball counts in the fifth. But the only run he allowed came in the first, when Ben Zobrist launched a two-out homer.

"Today wasn't the sharpest day, but I tried to put zeros up there any way I could," Floyd said. "It was a little more of a struggle today, but the bullpen did great. We had enough offense to win the game."

"We had opportunities and weren't able to get it done," said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon. "That's just how the game works sometimes. You can play well and you can pitch well but just not get a hit at the right time."

Alex Rios bailed out Floyd in that second inning with a running catch in the right-field corner of a Matt Joyce line drive that prevented two runs from scoring. Rios then inflicted damage with the bat against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson (9-11), who was touched up for three runs on nine hits over 5 2/3 innings.

Rios gave the White Sox a 2-1 lead via a solo homer opening up the fourth and doubled and scored on Alexei Ramirez's single in the sixth. The 25th homer and 89th RBI for Rios both stand as career highs.

"I'll check my numbers when the season is over," said Rios. "But it feels good. It feels good to be able to help the team get some wins."

Ramirez's two-out hit to left was one of just two in 11 chances for the White Sox with runners in scoring position but both produced runs. Kevin Youkilis also singled home Gordon Beckham in the third.

According to Konerko, the White Sox effort on Friday wasn't much different from their recent losing ways, aside from hits finding holes.

"Other than those two balls, I feel like we played the exact same game we played for a couple of weeks without getting the results," Konerko said. "That's the difference sometimes, the little hits that drive in a run and put you ahead."

Jesse Crain pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Floyd, giving the White Sox a major boost. He exited after hitting Evan Longoria with two outs in the eighth. Matt Thornton walked pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez to put two runners on base, but Nate Jones retired Jeff Keppinger on a routine grounder to Youkilis to end the rally.

Donnie Veal and Addison Reed (29th save) combined for a perfect ninth, sending the White Sox supporters into a greater state of euphoria than when the Twins' score was announced. The White Sox hope more cheers are on the horizon in their final five games.

"Anything can happen. We are right there. It could change tomorrow. Just one game," Reed said. "We are not going to press or doing anything we can't control."

"We're just one game behind and anything can happen," Rios said. "We just have to play the same way we played tonight and do the little things that we did."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.