CHICAGO – Thanks to John Danks and the White Sox, Chicago still has one team standing.
For the second time in less than a week, Danks pitched a strong game to save the season as the White Sox beat Tampa Bay 5-3 Sunday and trimmed the Rays’ lead in the opening-round A.L. playoff series to 2-1.
“If Danks loses in either game he pitches, we’re not here right now,” manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Game 4 in the best-of-five matchup is today in Chicago, with Gavin Floyd facing Tampa Bay’s Andy Sonnanstine.
“We’re going to put a lot of pressure on them,” Guillen added.
Less than 24 hours after the Cubs were swept out of the playoffs by the Dodgers, dashing Chicago’s hopes for a crosstown World Series, the White Sox avoided elimination before a black-shirted, white towel-waving crowd of 40,142 in their home park.
As for that other team in Chicago?
“I’m just trying to win one game and not get swept. I could care less about the Cubs,” Guillen said, adding he sent a text message to Cubs pitcher and fellow Venezuelan Carlos Zambrano, telling him to keep his head up.
Danks, who beat Minnesota 1-0 last Tuesday in the tiebreaker for the A.L. Central title, kept his poise and shut down the Rays for 6 2/3 innings.
“I was more nervous for Minnesota than I was this game,” Danks said. “Obviously, the same things were on the line. I was trying to stay within myself and A.J. (Pierzynski) did a good job of keeping me under control. It worked out all right.”
The 23-year-old lefty gave up five hits and a run before B.J. Upton hit a long, two-run homer with two out in the seventh that made it 5-3.
After a single by Carlos Pena, Octavio Dotel threw a third strike past Evan Longoria, who said the loss did little to dampen the Rays’ confidence.
“I don’t think this clubhouse believes that we lost any momentum,” Longoria said. “It’s one loss. We’re still in the driver’s seat as far as I’m concerned.”
Bobby Jenks pitched the ninth, striking out Pena with a nasty curveball with a runner on for his fifth postseason save. He had four in 2005.
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