CHICAGO — Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball was fluttering and moving as much as A.J. Pierzynski had ever seen it. Somehow the White Sox catcher got a pitch he could handle and drove it over the fence.
His seventh-inning homer sent the White Sox to a 3-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night and helped Gavin Floyd win a duel with the 44-year-old knuckleballer Wakefield.
“That was the best knuckleball I’ve seen him throw since I’ve watched him. And I’ve faced him a bunch,” Pierzynski said.
“It was just dropping. Moving left, right, up and down. People don’t understand how hard it is to hit that. They look up and see 65 mph and they don’t really realize how hard it is to actually hit that thing.”
On his homer, Pierzynski said he didn’t consider it a bad pitch or a mistake.
“I don’t remember,” he said. “I just saw it and swung and luckily for us it went out and gave us the lead.”
Chicago’s seventh straight victory over Boston and 14th in the last 16 games between the teams denied Wakefield his 200th career win.
“I felt great. I had a lot of movement on the knuckleball. I just left one pitch up that he hit for a homer. … Just didn’t do what it was supposed to do,” Wakefield said.
“I thought about it (200) a little bit before the game, but once I got done with my warm-ups and into the game, I wanted to win for us, not for me personally.”
Floyd (9-9) won his third straight start. He gave up a run and three hits in seven innings, including a homer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and ran his career record against the Red Sox to 6-0.
“I don’t know,” Floyd said of his success and the White Sox’s recent dominance against the Red Sox.
“Minnesota has our number. … I know that any moment, any game, against any team you do well against or are terrible with can turn right around. You try to ignore that stuff.”
Wakefield (6-4) also allowed three hits in seven innings. But his wild pitch in the sixth helped set up the tying run on Paul Konerko’s sacrifice fly. And he walked Carlos Quentin to start the bottom of the seventh before Pierzynski drove his fifth homer of the season into the right-center field seats to give the White Sox a two-run lead.
“I know it’s going to be tough for us to get to him because from the beginning he was throwing strikes,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said of Wakefield. “I know that ball was moving a lot.”
The Red Sox played without major league RBIs and batting average leader Adrian Gonzalez, a late lineup scratch with a stiff neck. Dustin Pedroia went 0 for 4 and his 25-game hitting streak was snapped.
“I wish we could have come out and swung the bats better for Wake,” Pedroia said.
Saltalamacchia worked a 3-2 count off Floyd before hitting his ninth homer to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in the third.
The Red Sox threatened in the sixth, loading the bases as Marco Scutaro beat out an infield single and Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz walked before Floyd threw a called third strike past Kevin Youklis.
“The biggest pitch was Youkilis, bases loaded,” Floyd said. “I walked a couple of guys to get the bases loaded but being able to execute that pitch and strike him out looking was a key out.”
Matt Thornton pitched the eighth and Sergio Santos the ninth for his 22nd save in 25 games.
Wakefield held the White Sox hitless through 3 2-3 innings before Adam Dunn singled in the fourth, and Chicago didn’t get another hit until Juan Pierre had a bunt single to start the bottom of the sixth. Switch-hitting Omar Vizquel, batting right-handed against the right-handed Wakefield, sacrificed before Pierre made third on a wild pitch. Konerko then delivered his sacrifice fly to lef t.
NOTES: Reliever Jason Frasor, acquired in a trade with Toronto on Wednesday, said he was ecstatic to join the White Sox and be in a pennant race. A Chicago native who has family in the suburbs, Frasor said he wasn’t sure what his role would be. He didn’t expect to land back in his hometown. “It’s nice to be wanted. I think when get traded they always ask, ‘Why did I get traded, why me?’ I don’t feel that way. …” Guillen said he told 44-year-old Vizquel if he keeps playing the way he has for the White Sox he could go another three years in the majors. Vizquel was batting .271 before starting at third base Friday night and the 11-time Gold Glove winner is still a slick fielder, making a couple of nice plays. Guillen also lauded Vizquel’s influence on younger players. … Saltalamaccchia’s homer was Boston’s 68th on the road this season. … Youklis, moved from third to first after Gonzalez was scratched, made a nice diving stop on Alejandro De Aza’s grounder in the fourth. … Wakefield is now 7-13 in his career against the White Sox. … Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Gonzalez should be able to return to the lineup Saturday.
Buchholz to visit specialist
CHICAGO — Boston Red Sox righthander Clay Buchholz will visit back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles on Monday, manager Terry Francona said Friday.
Buchholz, who has been on the disabled list since June 17 with a lower back strain, threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Monday. He has not thrown since and won’t until he sees Watkins.
Francona said shortstop Jed Lowrie, who hasn’t played since June 16 because of a sore left shoulder, should be able to start his rehab with Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday.
Righthanded reliever Bobby Jenks received an injection for his tight back and Francona said it “hit the spot.” Jenks has made 19 appearances this season.
Left fielder Carl Crawford was back in the starting lineup Friday night against Chicago after missing two starts with a left elbow strain.
Tigers 12, Angels 2
DETROIT — Carlos Guillen’s two-run triple highlighted a four-run sixth inning and the Detroit Tigers went on to beat the Los Angeles Angels 12-2 on Friday night.
Guillen and Victor Martinez finished with four RBIs, while Ramon Santiago added three hits.
Rick Porcello (11-6) allowed two runs and five hits in eight innings, striking out six.
Tyler Chatwood (6-7) gave up six runs on eight hits and two walks in 5 1-3 innings. The Angels had won three straight and five of seven.
With one out in the sixth, Martinez gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead with an RBI single, and Guillen followed with his first triple since July 9, 2010. Alex Avila drove in Guillen with a base hit, ending Chatwood’s night and putting Detroit up 6-2.
Martinez and Guillen added RBI doubles in the seventh to give the Tigers a six-run lead, and the pair both drove in runs for the third straight inning in Detroit’s three-run eighth.
The teams traded solo homers in the first, with Maicer Izturis’ leadoff shot being matched by Brennan Boesch’s 418-footer. The Angels went ahead again in the fifth on Mark Trumbo’s double — his sixth RBI in two days — but Detroit made it 2-2 in the bottom of the inning on Santiago’s RBI double.
NOTES: Angels shortstop Erick Aybar made a highlight-reel play to start a 6-4-3 double play in the fourth. A bad hop bounced off his chest, but he reached down and swatted the ball with his bare hard to Izturis, who made the relay throw to first. … Howie Kendrick lost control of his bat in spectacular fashion in the fifth inning, with it landing in the stands past third base. On the ne xt pitch, he lined a pitch into his own dugout. No one was injured on either play. … Austin Jackson is on pace for 177 strikeouts, which would break his own major league record for players hittin g fewer than 10 homers in a season. Jackson struck out 170 times as a rookie last season.
Braves 5, Marlins 0
ATLANTA — Dan Uggla hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the seventh inning, Brandon Beachy combined with two relievers on a three-hitter and the Atlanta Braves beat Florida 5-0 on Friday night to end the Marlins’ five-game winning streak.
Uggla extended his hitting streak to 20 games and leads Atlanta with 19 homers. He entered July with a .176 batting average but is up to .206 after going 1 for 4 against Florida.
Emilio Bonifacio’s 26-game hitting streak, the second-longest in Marlins history, came to an end. Bonifacio struck out twice and was thrown out trying to bunt his way on base before hitting a groundout to third in the eighth.
Beachy (4-2) yielded two hits, walked three and struck out six in 7 1-3 innings.
Eric O’Flaherty recorded the final two outs in the eighth and Scott Linebrink pitched around Gaby Sanchez’s one-out double in the ninth, striking out Logan Morrison to end the game.
Jose Constanza, recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett before the game, had a run-scoring single off Marlins left-hander Mike Dunn in the eighth for his first hit in the major leagues. Constanza scored from third on Freddie Freeman’s fly ball to left.
Clay Hensley (1-3) matched Beachy before fading quickly in the seventh. Hensley gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings.
Hensley gave up two hits in the first before retiring 16 straight. The streak ended when Martin Prado, who had three hits, led off the seventh with a single up the middle. Freeman followed with another single to center and Prado made it to third with a headfirst slide.
Uggla connected on an 0-1 pitch from Hensley, raising his right fist in the air as the ball cleared the wall in center.
Constanza replaced Nate McLouth as the leadoff hitter and center fielder after the veteran was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a lower abdominal strain.
McLouth is the third Atlanta player to be placed on the disabled list this week. Catcher Brian McCann (strained left oblique) and outfielder Jordan Schafer (finger) were shelved on Wednesday.
Also, third baseman Chipper Jones missed his fourth straight start with a strained right quadriceps.
“We’ll survive it,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said before the game. “Every team goes through it.”
With two outs in the seventh, Constanza misjudged a fly ball hit by Mike Stanton, drifting back before reversing his direction and charging toward the infield too late to make the catch. Stanton made it to second for a double.
Beachy escaped when left fielder Eric Hinske made a leaping catch of Mike Cameron’s line drive two steps in front of the wall, ending the inning.
Sanchez returned for Florida after missing three starts with a tight left hamstring.
NOTES: Uggla’s streak is the longest for the Braves since Kelly Johnson hit in 22 straight games from Sept. 1-24, 2008. … Braves INF Diory Hernandez was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Constanza. … Marlins OF Chris Coghlan, on the 15-day disabled list since June 17 with left knee inflammation, hyperextended his right elbow and is expected to stop hi s rehab for three to five days. … Freeman, who had two hits, has a 13-game hitting streak.