Tyson Ross would have liked to have had better command when he faced what has been a tough Chicago White Sox lineup Saturday. Yet the San Diego Padres' right hander had no trouble handcuffing a White Sox offense that is suddenly scuffling.
Ross limited the White Sox to two runs — one earned — on five hits in six innings, and Huston Street remained perfect in 17 save chances this season the Padres' 4-2 victory.
Will Venable had a season-high four hits and drove in two runs to help San Diego improve to 20-4 this season when scoring four or more runs.
"It was a battle today," Ross said. "The guys gave me a lead early. It wasn't very comfortable though. They were in striking distance the whole time. They're a good hitting team. "Anytime you can find a way to get outs when you don't have your best stuff, that's what pitching's all about."
Admittedly not having the sharpest control of his pitches against the White Sox, Ross — aided by a defense that turned double plays in the second and third innings — helped the Padres inch closer to .500. They are 19-1 this season when leading after the sixth inning.
Ross improved to 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in his last five starts.
"Tyson battled," Padres manager Bud Black said. "It was a workmanlike game for Tyson. Labored a little bit, but overall, a lot of positives. He made some pitches when he needed to."
In the third series between the two teams — and the first since 2005 — the Padres had the leadoff hitter reach base in seven of the nine innings. The White Sox managed only one base runner in the final four innings.
White Sox starting pitcher Andre Rienzo (4-2) struggled to keep the Padres off base and consistently ran into trouble. Rienzo lasted only 3 1-3 innings, surrendering three runs on seven hits.
Twice the White Sox cut the Padres' lead to one run, but they could never pull closer. Chicago has 23 strikeouts in the past two games against the Padres. "We're just not getting that hit, the hit that gets you over the hump," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I think all teams go through it for a period and the last couple of days that's been us. We haven't been able to get the hit that gets you over the hump. Whenever that happens, it looks boring; it looks like they're not trying. But they're grinding it out."
Dayan Viciedo's two-out double to right-center field scored Adam Eaton, who reached on an error by shortstop Everth Cabrera to start the fifth, to cut the Padres' lead to 3-2. San Diego answered in the top of the sixth, extending its lead, 4-2. Alexi Amarista's sacrifice fly scored Venable, who reached on a double and advanced on a sacrifice bunt.
Paul Konerko's single in the second snapped an 0 for 12 stretch and put runners on the corners for the White Sox after Alexei Ramirez led off the inning with a single. The White Sox cut San Diego's lead to 2-1 on the next play, though Alejandro De Aza's double play ball, which scored Ramirez, killed Chicago's rally.
San Diego had chances to put Chicago away. Despite loading the bases with nobody out against Rienzo, the Padres only managed to score one run in the third. Center fielder Eaton delivered a perfect throw home on Venable's RBI single to nail Carlos Quentin at the plate, keeping San Diego's lead to 3-1. "I think we're seeing a little bit of an uptick in our offense," Black said. "We're seeing some averages climb."
The Padres took a 2-0 lead in the second scoring on RBI doubles from Venable and Rene Rivera. Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin left the game with right calf tightness after reaching second base on a fielder's choice in the Padres' two-run second inning.
A diving catch by right fielder Chris Denorfia to end the fourth on Tyler Flowers' line drive saved at least one Chicago run from scoring, stranding runners on first and second to maintain a 3-1 Padres lead.