(Sports Network) – After putting what could be the final nail in the coffin in regards to the Boston Red Sox’ playoff hopes with Saturday’s performance, the Chicago White Sox now set their sights on earning their first series sweep in Fenway Park in 19 years when they take the field this afternoon.
Chicago took both ends of yesterday’s doubleheader between these teams by identical 3-1 scores, with the two losses moving Boston 7 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the lead in the American League Wild Card standings with under a month to go in the regular season.
The White Sox received terrific starting pitching in both contests. John Danks (13-9) held Boston to a run and six hits over seven innings of work in the opener, while Gavin Floyd (10-11) yielded just one run and five hits through six frames in game two to help Chicago register its fifth straight win on its current road trip.
Bobby Jenks closed out both wins for the White Sox, tossing a scoreless ninth in game one and retiring all four batters he faced in the nightcap.
Chicago banged out 13 hits in taking the opener, with Paul Konerko going 3- for-4 with two runs scored to lead the way. Carlos Quentin was the hitting star in the second test, delivering a double and a triple and crossing the plate twice.
Former Red Sox great Manny Ramirez, acquired by Chicago in a waiver claim from the Dodgers on Monday, served as the White Sox’ designated hitter in both games and went 3-for-8 over the course of the twinbill.
The White Sox closed within 3 1/2 games of first-place Minnesota in the AL Central race with Saturday’s results and will be shooting for their first road sweep of Boston since July 27-28, 1991.
“If you’re not winning the other games, when you play the Twins it’s not going to matter,” said Jenks. “It doesn’t seem like they’re going to lose any time soon either.”
The White Sox, who had last won a series in Fenway Park back in 2004, have now prevailed in six of their last seven matchups with Boston dating back to last season.
Chicago turns to Mark Buehrle this afternoon in hopes of continuing its winning ways. The steady veteran owns a 12-10 record with a respectable 3.95 earned run average over 27 starts this season, but hasn’t been able to pick up a win in either of his last two outings.
Buehrle allowed three runs in a six-inning no-decision this past Monday in Cleveland, five days after the left-hander was reached for four runs and walked four over seven frames in a home loss to Baltimore on August 25.
The four-time All-Star is 6-5 with a 4.43 ERA in 14 lifetime appearances (13 starts) against Boston and 3-2 in four career trips to the Fenway Park mound. Buehrle has lost in each of his past two starts at the historic venue, however, including a lopsided defeat in 2008 in which he was tagged for seven runs and 11 hits in only 4 2/3 innings of work.
Boston mustered only seven hits in the opener and six in the nightcap and has now dropped five of its last seven games. Marco Scutaro drove in both of the Red Sox’ runs on the day with a pair of RBI singles.
“We’re in a tough spot for sure,” said starting pitcher John Lackey, who surrendered three runs (one earned) over seven innings in losing game two. “We’re in a tough division with two real quality teams in front of us. We have to keep battling the rest of the way. It’s frustrating.”
Josh Beckett has endured his share of frustration during what’s been a subpar and injury-plagued season for the Red Sox hurler. The right-hander enters today’s assignment with a 6.21 ERA over 16 starts in 2010 and has let up six runs or more in three of his past five times out.
Beckett has been significantly better as of late, however. After halting a three-start winless skid by limiting Seattle to three runs and fanning seven over 6 1/3 innings on August 25, the former World Series MVP allowed three runs — two earned — through seven frames of Tuesday’s start at Baltimore. He did end up with a loss in that game, though, as Boston fell by a 5-2 count.
The 30-year-old does sport a 4-1 lifetime record along with a 3.72 ERA over six meetings with the White Sox, although the lone loss took place in his only start against the club last season.