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Second straight strong start by Velasquez paces White Sox past Red Sox


BOSTON — When last seen, Vince Velasquez was standing in a driving rain Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field, battling Mike Trout in the sixth inning during a masterful start, easily his best performance of the young season.

When the umpires called for the tarp, effectively ending Velasquez’ day, he stood there, smiling and talking with Trout, both wanting to finish the duel. It was one of the neater moments of an April lacking for neat ones on the South Side.

Velasquez probably couldn’t wait for Friday to bring what he had that day to Fenway Park to face the Red Sox, and while skeptics wondered if he could spin two good games in a row, he did just that with five innings of one-run ball in a 4-2 White Sox victory.

The White Sox were going for their fourth straight win and fifth in six games, a stretch that began with Velasquez’ 5 23 scoreless innings in a 4-0 win against the Angels, his first win since last June 29 with the Phillies.

Against the scuffling Red Sox (10-17), Velasquez worked ahead in the count and threw 49 of 75 pitches for strikes. He allowed a run on three hits, walking two and striking out two, lowering his ERA to 3.94.

He’s pitching like someone who wants to stay in the rotation that currently includes Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and Dallas Keuchel with Johnny Cueto possibly arriving from Triple-A Charlotte next week and Lance Lynn expected back after knee surgery as soon as the end of the month.

Velasquez left with a 3-1 lead thanks to a sac fly by Jose Abreu and home run by Luis Robert against Nathan Eovaldi in the third. Robert, who survived a run-in with the center field bricks at Wrigley Field two nights earlier, showed he was none the worse for wear when he skied one over the Green Monster in left field with AJ Pollock on base. Robert’s homer, his fourth of the season tying him with Tim Anderson and Andrew Vaughn for the team lead, came after Abreu plated Anderson with a sacrifice fly.

Anderson had three singles, raising his average to .330. Two of the hits were against Nathan Eovaldi, who entered with a 2.51 ERA but needed 101 pitches to get through five innings.

Adam Engel, who pinch hit for left fielder Gavin Sheets and stayed in the game in right field as a defensive upgrade, helped the Sox stretch the lead to 4-1 when he singled, stole second, advanced to third on a flyout and scored on Reese McGuire’s sacrifice fly.

With Kendall Graveman pitching, Engel let Jarren Duran’s sinking liner get past him for a leadoff triple in the bottom of the inning, and Trevor Story’s RBI groundout cut the White Sox lead to 4-2.

Liam Hendriks struck out three batters in a scoreless ninth for his eighth save. Against the Cubs Wednesday, Hendriks recorded his 85th career save to become the all-time leader among Australian-born players. He surpassed Grant Balfour (84 career saves).

It had been an emotional night for Hendriks, whose grandfather died before the game. On his Instagram account, Hendriks said he hasn’t been home to see him since 2019 because of restrictions and “was overwhelmed by emotion and the memories of him.”

Velasquez was 0-7 with a 13.50 ERA and .364 opponents average in his previous seven road starts. The Sox signed Velasquez to a one-year, $3 million contract as a free agent March 13 as rotation depth and a project for pitching coach Ethan Katz. Velasquez was 3-9 with a 6.30 ERA last season with the Phillies and Padres, pitching in 25 games including 21 starts.





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