ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Philip Humber didn’t match the performance in his previous win. Nearly impossible to do that.
After more than a month without a win, though, he was still pretty happy.
Combined with the Cleveland Indians’ 8-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday, the White Sox win vaulted them into 1st place in the American League Central division.
Humber won for the first time since throwing a perfect game in April, and the Chicago White Sox extended their winning streak to seven games by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 on Tuesday night.
“I just tried to simplify things,” Humber said. “My only goal was let’s not walk anybody. I walked one guy, but at the same time, I feel like that’s really kind of been what’s been biting me lately. I’ve just been beating myself a lot. That was something I was kind of proud, just being able to pound the strike zone.”
Hideki Matsui homered in his Tampa Bay debut. The Rays purchased the 2009 World Series MVP’s contract from Triple-A Durham before the game.
Humber (2-2) was 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA over six starts since his gem against Seattle on April 21. The right-hander allowed two runs and five hits over seven innings Tuesday.
“It was a good start and hopefully something I can build on,” Humber said.
Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo both had two RBIs for the White Sox, who have won six in a row on the road.
Ramirez had an RBI double during a five-run sixth against James Shields (6-3) as Chicago took a 6-2 lead. A.J. Pierzynski, Viciedo and Orlando Hudson hit run-scoring singles, while Alejandro De Aza drove in a run with a grounder.
“We were able to get to him one inning,” said White Sox DH Adam Dunn, who started the sixth by drawing a walk. “Other than that, he shut us down. I know that we were going to have to really grind it out against him. He’s one of the best in the game, and anytime you get a guy like that and something kind of goes wrong, you need to take advantage of it.”
Shields gave up six runs and 10 hits in six innings.
Matsui put the Rays ahead 2-0 on a long homer to right off a Humber fastball in the fourth. It was his first homer since Sept. 19 against Texas while with Oakland.
“It was nice to hit the home run, but we lost the game,” Matsui said through a translator. “Physically I feel fine. So hopefully I can just keep building from here.”
Matsui, who turns 38 on June 12, started in left field. He played 13 games with Durham after signing a minor league contract with Tampa Bay on April 30.
“He’s been a quality batsman in the league for a long time,” Humber said. “First pitch of the at-bat, I felt like it was a pretty decent pitch, but he put a good swing on it. You’ve got to tip your cap sometimes, but he’s a good hitter and it’s not a mistake he’s been around as long as he has.”
The White Sox got to 2-1 in the fifth when Viciedo singled, went to third when Shields was charged with an error for an errant pickoff attempt and scored on Ramirez’s single.
Viciedo hit a solo shot in the eighth. The White Sox have homered in 15 consecutive games.
“We just weren’t at the top of our game,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Chicago’s Paul Konerko went 0 for 4, including three strikeouts, to stop his 14-game hitting streak.
NOTES: Matsui got a nice ovation, with a few fans giving him a standing ovation, before his first at-bat. He finished 1 for 4. … Viciedo has driven in 12 runs in his last six games. … Maddon said 3B Evan Longoria (partial tear left hamstring) continues improving, but is at least a few weeks away from being ready for a minor league rehab assignment. … Pierzynski has 12 RBIs over his last 12 games. … With the addition of Matsui, Tampa Bay DH Luke Scott could get some playing time at first base.
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