CHICAGO -- A strange feeling hit Clayton Richard like a fastball as the Jake Peavy saga unfolded, so he did the only thing he could do.
He focused, locked in.Richard struck out a career-high eight over six innings, Alexei Ramirez homered in his second straight game and the Chicago White Sox shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates again, 4-0 on Saturday."It was something I had never been a part of, so it was a little bit different," said Richard, who reportedly would have gone to San Diego had Peavy not blocked the trade Thursday. "It just made me appreciate what I have here."Richard insisted the thought never crossed his mind: Would his next appearance be with the White Sox or the Padres?"I try to keep that out of my mind," he said.The Pirates would have loved to keep him out of sight.Richard (1-0) allowed four hits for his first victory since last August, and the White Sox won for the fourth time in five games. They haven't allowed a run since that franchise record-tying 20-1 loss to Minnesota on Thursday.While manager Ozzie Guillen tended to his ailing father-in-law in Venezuela, the White Sox turned in a performance he would have liked.Paul Konerko singled in a run in the fourth, Ramirez made it 3-0 with a two-run shot in the fifth, and Jermaine Dye added a solo drive in the eighth.Now, the White Sox are looking pretty good.They got blown out Thursday and blown off by Peavy. But since then? Gavin Floyd and Bobby Jenks combined on a two-hitter in Friday's 2-0 win over Pittsburgh. And on Saturday, they got another dominant start while handing the Pirates their third straight loss after winning five in a row.Pittsburgh wasted a standout performance by Duke on Friday and a solid effort by Ross Ohlendorf (5-4), who allowed four runs and six hits in a career-high 7 2/3 innings. But two big swings by Ramirez and Dye opened up the game.Dye hit his 11th homer with two out in the eighth after scoring the game's first run, and Ohlendorf left after walking Jim Thome.The big blow, however, came from Ramirez in the fifth.With a 1-0 lead, he drove a fastball to the seats beyond the left-field bullpen for his third homer. The runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year last season, Ramirez had gone 72 at-bats without one before he connected Friday and the three-run lead was plenty given how Richard was pitching."A lefty like that who mixes his pitches is going to be hard to hit," Ramirez said.The 25-year-old threw several pitches in the mid-90s while winning for the first time since he beat Seattle and Baltimore in back-to-back starts last Aug. 19 and 25. Not bad, considering he might have been a Padre."I don't know why," Pittsburgh's Craig Monroe said. "No, I know why. Because Peavy is one of the best in the game. But he is very young and very talented. He threw the ball well."Richard, who replaced the struggling Jose Contreras in the rotation earlier this month, allowed two runs over a career-high seven innings in his previous start against Toronto. And the Pirates never got a runner past second for the second straight night."It's funny, it seems to hit everybody at once," manager John Russell said.They had two runners on in the second and sixth, but Richard stranded them. Andy LaRoche also drove a long fly to left leading off the fifth that Carlos Quentin caught as he crashed into the wall. Quentin, who has been bothered by a sore left heel, left after grounding out to end the sixth for precautionary reasons.Bench coach Joey Cora said he will be in the lineup Sunday, "no doubt about it."
Cora filled in for Guillen, who is expected to return Sunday afternoon but won't manage. ... Richard struck out seven against Texas last July 23. ... Quentin made his first start in eight days in left field, after starting at DH on Friday and getting two at-bats there the previous day. He missed five games because of a sore left heel. ... Chicago had back-to-back shutouts Aug. 12 and 13 at Kansas City. ... LaRoche went 2 for 3, extending his hitting streak to eight games.