White Sox top Rays, 5-2 at U.S. Cellular Field

Sports-White_Sox.jpgChicago White Sox’s Jeff Keppinger (7) celebrates with teammate Alexei Ramirez (10), after scoring on a Paul Konerko single against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Thursday, April 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Chris Sale pitching at home and Adam Dunn starting to swing better added up to a win for the Chicago White Sox.

Sale overcame a shaky first two innings to combine with two relievers on a five-hitter and Dunn homered to lead the White Sox to a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night.

Sale (2-2) is 11-3 with a 2.26 ERA at home in 17 starts dating to the beginning of the 2012 season. He walked three over the first two innings, but settled down and won for the first time since opening day.

He allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, striking out seven and working around four walks.

Matt Lindstrom worked a scoreless eighth, then Addison Reed pitched the ninth for his seventh save in seven chances for Chicago.

“Tonight (Sale) worked his way through it and I think at the end you’re looking at what you would expect, but with some little bumps in the road,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “The way he battled back is what you like seeing.”

The White Sox also wouldn’t mind seeing Dunn battle back.

Dunn, in a 7-for-70 slide coming in, hit a two-run homer in the sixth off Jeremy Hellickson (1-2) for a 5-2 lead. The White Sox designated hitter went 1 for 4, raising his average to .108.

“It’s hard to sit here and tell everybody you feel good and the results aren’t there, but I do feel good. I have felt good for the most part of the season,” Dunn said. “Obviously the results aren’t where I want them.”

Desmond Jennings walked leading off the game and scored on Evan Longoria’s single. Sale then walked two more in the second, but only allowed Jose Lobaton’s solo home run in the fourth on his way to another win in Chicago.

“I think it’s just like anything,” Sale said. “You’re a little more comfortable at your house and with the home crowd behind you.”

Hellickson gave up five runs, five hits and four walks in six innings with eight strikeouts. Given the early lead, he allowed three runs in the first.

Alejandro De Aza doubled leading off and scored on Jeff Keppinger’s double. Alex Rios walked and, one out later, Paul Konerko singled in the go-ahead run. Conor Gillaspie followed with a sacrifice fly.

Chicago had totaled 10 runs in its previous five games, losing four of them.

“I’ll take five. I like five,” Ventura said. “Five’s a good number for our pitching staff. If you get there it’s a pretty good number.”

Gillaspie was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Alexei Ramirez’s double into the left-field corner in the fourth. Longoria took the throw from Kelly Johnson and relayed to Lobaton at the plate.

Lobaton was 2 for 2 with a walk. His home run was his first since Aug. 22.

Hellickson’s six-inning outing ended a three-game streak for Rays starters lasting at least eight innings. He said he felt comfortable during the second through the fifth innings, but it was the first (three runs) and the sixth (two) that hurt him.

“We got back into it and the home run took a little steam away from us,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Their guy was good. Sale was very good. They just straight up beat us.”

Over his last two starts, Hellickson had allowed two runs in 14 innings. He more than matched that early, continuing a trend of first-inning struggles.

Eight of the 15 runs Hellickson’s given up this season have been in the first.

“It’s kind of frustrating, but I feel good,” Hellickson said. “I just need to throw better pitches.”

Sale did that after a tough first two innings.

“I think the biggest thing was taking my frustration out of it. Things are going to happen,” Sale said. “You can’t throw confetti when you’re going good and you can’t kick yourself in the rear when you’re going bad.”

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