The way A.J. Pierzynski sees it, there's no reason the Chicago White Sox can't contend until the end of the season. They just might if they keep this up.
Adam Dunn hit his 15th homer, Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo both went deep for the second time in as many nights, and the White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 9-3 on Friday night for their seventh win in eight games.
Pierzynski also tripled and scored three runs while driving in two. Viciedo knocked in two runs and scored twice, and the White Sox gave Jose Quintana (1-0) all the support he needed in his first major league start.
"We have a good feeling," Pierzynski said. "There's been some ups and downs, but at the end of the day, when we come in, we know that there's a positive vibe. Guys want to do well. Guys are trying to do well. They're working their tails off to do well. We know we're in for a dogfight, but at the end of the day, we like where we're at. We like our chances. If we continue to pitch and get some hits like we have, we should be able to win."
The White Sox again used the long ball to take out the AL Central leaders after hitting five homers Thursday against Minnesota. Dunn drove a two-run shot in the first after Cleveland scored a run in the top half. Pierzynski connected leading off the second, and Chicago broke open a one-run game in the sixth, scoring three times with two outs while chasing Jeanmar Gomez (3-3).
Alexei Ramirez knocked him out with an RBI single after Pierzynski and Viciedo walked, and Alejandro De Aza drove in two more runs with a bases loaded single off Jairo Asencio to make it 6-2, sending Cleveland to just its third loss in 11 games.
The White Sox added three more with two outs in the seventh, with Alex Rios reaching on a single to third that initially was ruled an error and scoring on Pierzynski's triple before Viciedo hit a two-run homer.
It's not what the Indians envisioned after sweeping a three-game series from Detroit, the team many thought would win the division. But the second-place White Sox are looking good at the moment.
They swept the Cubs, took two of three from Minnesota, and they didn't blink with the schedule taking a tougher turn, pulling within 2 ½ games of Cleveland on Friday.
"I think it's fun that way," the Indians' Jason Kipnis said. "It was good what we did against Detroit here at home, but now we got to turn our focus to these guys. These guys are closer in the division than Detroit is right now so it's not like, 'Oh, we beat Detroit -- we did it.' ...This team is good and we know that."
While Gomez simply had a rough night, giving up six runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings, Quintana gave the White Sox what they needed.
Called up from Triple-A Charlotte with John Danks going on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left shoulder, the 23-year-old left-hander allowed two runs and four hits in six innings. He wasn't quite as dominant against the Indians this time, after pitching 5 2-3 scoreless innings of relief against them in his only other appearance on May 7, but he was good enough and showed some poise, particularly in a tight spot in the fifth.
With runners on second and third, he retired Asdrubal Cabrera on a foul pop and Carlos Santana on a groundout to end the threat.
"I knew I needed to get these outs," Quintana said through an interpreter. "It was dire for us to have this win, and so all I did was go out there and concentrate on each pitch that I was pitching and just try to get a strike on each one that I was throwing."