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White Sox sweep Rays for eighth straight victory

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (MCT) — After watching his manager and starting pitcher get ejected in the fourth inning, rookie closer Addison Reed admitted after the White Sox’s 4-3 victory over the Rays that this triumph was the most special of their eight straight.

“Go for the sweep and everything that happened in (this) game, you kind of wanted it more than the other ones,” Reed said after he induced Luke Scott to pop out to short with the potential tying and winning runs on base to preserve the victory and complete a three-game sweep at Tropicana Field. “We pulled it off, and it feels good.”

The Sox might need Thursday’s day off to relax after the circumstances that nearly prevented them from extending their longest winning streak since they won nine straight July 4-15, 2010.

With two out in the fourth inning of a 1-1 tie, plate umpire Mark Wegner tossed rookie left-hander Jose Quintana after ruling Quintana had intentionally thrown behind Ben Zobrist. Mild-mannered Robin Ventura received his first ejection as a manager after arguing for several minutes.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Ventura said. “I don’t know how to explain it. I was shocked. Usually if a guy feels it’s intent, it’s a warning, and it goes from there. It just shocked me.”

Major League Baseball rules stipulate a warning isn’t necessary before an umpire ejects a pitcher for determining that a pitch was thrown at a hitter intentionally.

Quintana, in his third major league appearance, said he merely got crossed up because he was prepared to throw a fastball when he saw catcher A.J. Pierzynski call for a changeup.

“That’s how it slipped out,” Quintana said.

Zobrist wasn’t amused.

“It was like painfully obvious he was trying to throw at me because it was 2 feet behind me,” he said.

Zobrist also took exception to Pierzynski clipping his leg while trying to break up a double play in the second inning Tuesday.

“I didn’t think there was a play at first base, and I was on the very back of the bag,” Zobrist said. “He went out of his way to (put) his cleat on my ankle. I just let him know I didn’t think it was necessary.”

In the third inning Wednesday, Alex Cobb hit Pierzynski in the back with a pitch.

“A pretty standard 0-0 pitch,” Pierzynski deadpanned.

But it helped the Sox snap a 1-1 tie as Dayan Viciedo then singled in Alex Rios, and Alexei Ramirez scored Pierzynski with a sacrifice fly.

Ramirez doubled home Viciedo in the fifth with the eventual winning run.

Despite leaving the bases loaded with no outs in the second and stranding two runners in the ninth, the Sox held on behind 31/3 scoreless innings from Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and Reed in relief of Quintana and Nate Jones.

“Usually the mentality is win the series (or) two of three, but when a team gets the feeling we have, you feel like you have it within your grasp, you feel like you want to close it out,” Ventura said. “The bullpen came in and did it for us.”

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