With the aid of his changeup and his glove, Jon Garland looked very comfortable Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field under chilly and windy conditions.
Garland became the American League's first seven-game winner because he kept the Baltimore Orioles off-balance for eight innings in a 3-2 victory.
Garland's 7-0 start is the White Sox's best since James Baldwin started 8-0 in 2000. Garland has won his last nine starts, dating to September 2004, the longest Sox winning streak since LaMarr Hoyt won 11 straight from Aug. 22, 1983 to April 10, 1984.
Garland's signature moment came in the eighth inning after Melvin Mora's broken-bat single closed the Orioles' deficit to 3-2 and moved the tying run to third. Former American League most valuable player Miguel Tejada worked Garland to a full count before Garland struck him out on a 78-m.p.h. changeup to end the rally to the delight of 29,031 fans.
"There were some RBIs out there for [Tejada]," Garland said. "He wants to hit it. [Catcher] A.J. Pierzynski and I were on the same page. I wanted to throw [a changeup], and he called it."
Garland kept his amazing start in perspective and declined to think about an All-Star Game selection.
"We're in May," Garland said. "If that situation comes about, I'll deal with it then."
Garland beat a Baltimore team that that leads the major-leagues with a .291 batting average. He didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning and didn't run into serious trouble until the eighth.
Garland lowered his season ERA to 2.39 and is even more formidable at home with a 3-0 record and 1.50 ERA.
He finally allowed his first home run at U.S. Cellular Field when Rafael Palmeiro hit his 555th career homer in the fifth. But that was the only extra base hit Garland allowed as he scattered eight hits and walked one over eight innings.
Garland's effort was a marked improvement over his Saturday start in Toronto when he gave up six runs in 52/3 innings but still managed a 10-7 victory. Garland was just as upset with his inability to field grounders up the middle that resulted in hits, but he made up for it Thursday.
After allowing the homer to Palmeiro, Garland turned Javy Lopez's potential single into a simple groundout. In the seventh, he leaped high to field B.J. Surhoff's grounder to prevent a hit.
His best play came in the eighth, with the help of Pierzynski.
David Newhan hit a grounder back to the mound and Garland spun toward second for a potential force play. But Garland reversed his field and threw to home plate, where Pierzynski tagged rookie Jeffrey Fiorentino in a rundown.
"I happened to hear A.J. yelling at me," Garland said. "That could have been the difference."
As good as Garland has pitched, the efforts of Dustin Hermanson can't be ignored. The right-handed reliever earned his seventh save when he threw a perfect ninth.
Hermanson hasn't allowed a run in 171/3 innings covering 15 appearances, the best start by a Sox reliever since Melido Perez didn't allow a run in his first 191/3 innings in 1991.
The Sox (26-9) took a lead for their 35th consecutive game in the second when Pierzynski pulled a home run over the right-field fence to snap an 0-for-8 skid.
The big crowd had manager Ozzie Guillen craving more support.
"Don't wait until September because we don't know where we'll be in September," Guillen said.
"Come out and enjoy what we have."
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