After being outscored 32-5 in Oakland last weekend, the White Sox came into this weekend's rematch on mission.
"We put a challenge to the club right after we left Oakland," manager Jerry Manuel said. "We really wanted to see how they'd respond."
So far, so good.
The Sox knocked Tim Hudson around Saturday in a 10-2 win at Comiskey Park, doing to the Oakland ace what the A's did to Sox ace Mark Buehrle a week ago. In winning the first two games of the series, the Sox have outscored the A's 16-3 in the last two days.
"They probably think we're doing some things under the table," Manuel said. "We're not. We're just playing good baseball."
Oakland manager Art Howe, upset with comments by Buehrle on Friday, believes the Sox talk a good game. He prefers his players keep it zipped.
"You just keep your mouths shut and play the game," Howe said.
The Sox were 3-for-3 with seven RBIs with the bases loaded, getting five RBIs from Jose Valentin on a three-run triple and a two-run single. Carlos Lee turned in a defensive gem in the sixth inning, leaping above the left-field wall to rob Carlos Pena of two-run homer.
"That catch was the game," Valentin said. "With two outs, what better play is there?"
Lee finished last among American League left fielders last year with eight errors and a .969 fielding percentage, and candidly acknowledged in spring that he had "embarrassed" himself. After Lee's catch, six of his teammates waited on the field to congratulate him.
Hudson (3-3) gave up nine earned runs in 61/3 innings, matching a career-worst performance. Todd Ritchie (3-2), who gave up seven runs to Oakland last Sunday in a 10-0 loss, allowed only two runs on nine hits in six innings.
After the A's grabbed a 1-0 lead on Randy Velarde's first-inning home run, the Sox answered with four in the fourth off Hudson. A walk and two singles loaded the bases for Valentin, whose triple cleared them. Lee's sacrifice fly made it 4-1.
Manuel's strategy against a quality pitcher like Hudson is predicated on the idea that runs will be hard to come by. Hudson came in with a 1.87 earned-run average, ranking second among American League pitchers.
"If he looks like we're not going to muster much offense, then we'll try to manufacture [runs] early and hold them off," Manuel said.
"That's always been the philosophy. Sometimes you see that we lay down bunts in the first inning regardless of the pitcher. It's a two-fold reason. You want to get a guy in scoring position, No. 1, and No. 2, the guy who lays down the bunt gets a good look at the ball, so it affects him late in the game.
"We kind of like that strategy. That's been our style for a while."
Sure enough, Durham bunted Kenny Lofton to second in the first inning. Though the Sox didn't score, Durham homered off Hudson in the fifth, and the Sox added five in the seventh, including bases-loaded hits by Valentin and Magglio Ordonez.