BOSTON — The Chicago White Sox are putting the pieces together for a strong stretch run.
John Danks and Gavin Floyd each turned in solid starts Saturday as the White Sox posted a pair of 3-1 wins in a day-night doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox, moving within 3 and a half games of the AL Central-leading Twins.
The sweep ran Chicago’s winning streak to five straight games, a well-timed surge featuring clutch hitting, solid pitching and the addition of former Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez.
“That’s a big key for us, our pitching,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “It seems like these kids late in the year the last couple of years have stepped up big. That’s our game, pitching and clutch hitting.”
Danks (13-9) allowed one run and six hits in the opener, and Floyd (10-11) followed that up with six innings of one-run ball, yielding five hits.
The White Sox swept a three-game series in Cleveland before coming to Boston, getting late three-run homers from A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko in the final two games of the set.
Chicago never trailed in either game Saturday as the Red Sox managed just 13 hits, 11 of them singles.
“When you don’t have a lot of opportunities, you need to cash in when you can and we didn’t,” Boston manager Terry Francona said.
In the opener, Ramirez went 2 for 4 with two singles that set up runs. He was 1 for 4 in the nightcap, wrapping up his first appearance at Fenway Park since joining the White Sox on Tuesday after being claimed on waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“When you’re a great hitter and you don’t have your timing yet, that’s helping the ballclub,” Guillen said. “Manny’s not coming here to be the hero, not coming here to be the guy who is going to carry this load. The last two games he has played for us he’s been great.”
The Red Sox have been punchless with Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury out for the season.
“If you’re losing the kind of caliber people that we’ve lost this year, it’s going to show up eventually,” Game 2 loser John Lackey said.
The Red Sox trail Tampa Bay by 7½ games for the AL wild card after being just 4½ games behind following Monday’s victory against the Rays.
Carlos Quentin hurt Lackey (12-9) with a double and triple. The right-hander allowed just two more hits and only one earned run in seven innings.
Floyd gave up Boston’s only run of the second game on a single in the fifth inning by Marco Scutaro, who also drove in Boston’s only run in the opener.
Lackey was hurt by a throwing error by center fielder Ryan Kalish in a two-run seventh when Chicago went ahead 3-1.
Bobby Jenks got the save in both games, making him 27 of 31 on the year.
The White Sox have three games left against the Twins, but “If you’re not winning the other games it’s not going to matter when you play the Twins,” Jenks said.
In the nightcap, Quentin led off the third with a triple before Ramon Castro struck out. Gordon Beckham grounded to first baseman Victor Martinez, who threw to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in time to get Quentin at home. But Quentin charged into Saltalamacchia without sliding, jolting the ball loose.
With runners at first and second and two out in the fourth, Lackey hit Quentin with a pitch. Plate umpire James Hoye warned both benches and Guillen and Francona came out to talk with him.
Lackey struck out Castro to end the inning, then went to Quentin at first base, talked to him and patted him on the leg.
Boston tied it at 1 in the fifth but Chicago went ahead in the seventh. Mark Teahen started the inning with a single before Quentin doubled to deep left-center. Kalish ran the ball down but his throw sailed halfway up the first-base line, allowing Teahen to score. Castro’s sacrifice fly made it 3-1.
In the opener, a makeup of Friday night’s postponement due the threat of severe weather from Hurricane Earl, Ramirez returned to Fenway in his second uniform this year. He went 5 for 12 with a solo homer with the Dodgers in June.
Konerko went 3 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, then was hitless in the nightcap.
“PK’s the key to the White Sox right now,” Guillen said. “Having Manny here helps.”
Boston’s Clay Buchholz (15-6) gave up two runs and five hits and left after just five innings in hopes he can pitch Wednesday night against the Rays.
“He was making a lot of good pitches that were getting fouled off,” Konerko said. “Next thing you know the pitch count was high and we’re into the bullpen.”
The White Sox are 51-27 since June 9, the best record in the majors over that stretch.
“They’ve always been a good hitting team and (then) you throw Manny in the mix and it makes them that much better,” Buchholz said.
Chicago took a 1-0 lead in the second when Konerko singled and took third on Ramirez’s single to right. Pierzynski grounded into a double play, but Konerko scored.
Konerko started the fourth with a ground-rule double and moved up on Ramirez’s groundout. Then Pierzynski singled for a 2-0 lead.
NOTES: Buchholz has allowed three runs or less in 17 of his last 18 starts. … Boston C Jason Varitek, out since July 1 with a broken right foot, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday. … Floyd allowed two runs or less for the 15th time in his last 17 starts but won for just the second time in five outings.