BOSTON (AP) — Ryan Dempster could only watch as Boston’s starters pitched one strong game after another.
He finally joined in Friday night.
Dempster returned from his suspension for hitting Alex Rodriguez with a pitch and worked into the seventh inning, leading the Red Sox over the Chicago White Sox 4-3 for their fifth victory in six games.
It was the 10th straight game in which Red Sox pitchers allowed three or fewer runs, a streak that began with the first game after Dempster (7-9) plunked Rodriguez on Aug. 18, which led to a five-game suspension.
“They’ve done an unbelievable job, all of us in the rotation. I’m glad I could just slide in and do a little bit of my part,” Dempster said. “Hopefully, that’s just something that will continue to build up.”
Dempster held Chicago hitless through the first four innings and allowed three runs on five hits in 6 1-3 innings.
“When you’re not out playing and you’re not injured, it’s not a fun thing,” he said. “I worked hard in the time off I had to be as ready as possible.”
David Ortiz snapped an 0-for-23 slump with a two-run single for the AL East leaders.
“I told you guys last night, don’t worry about me,” Ortiz said. “Start worrying about me when I go up to the plate with no bat.”
Koji Uehara struck out two in the ninth for his 15th save. He worked 1 1-3 innings in his 20th straight scoreless appearance.
Boston manager John Farrell, a former pitching coach, said it’s the best stretch by a closer he’s ever seen.
Chicago lost for the second time in six games as it started a 10-game road trip after winning its previous five series.
The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the third on a bases-loaded walk to Mike Napoli. They made it 4-0 in the fourth when Will Middlebrooks walked, stole second and scored on Shane Victorino’s single. Ortiz followed with his two-run single off Hector Santiago (4-8).
“I felt fine,” Santiago said. “It’s just one of those days you go out and stink. If you can’t throw strikes, you can’t succeed.”
Dempster struck out five and walked three. He walked the first two batters of the game, then got Alexei Ramirez to ground into a double play and struck out Adam Dunn.
“The biggest pitch he made of the night was the groundball double play,” Farrell said. “They had a chance to build an inning against him. He shuts it off right there.”
Dempster’s next three innings were perfect, with only one of the nine outs getting beyond the infield.
“When you get opportunities with a guy who knows what he is doing, you have to take advantage. Obviously, we didn’t do that,” Dunn said. “He threw a little bit of everything.”
Dempster ran into trouble in the fifth when Paul Konerko led off with a double for Chicago’s first hit and went to third on a single by Avisail Garcia. Konerko was thrown out at home on a grounder. Dayan Viciedo then singled in Garcia.
The White Sox cut the lead to 4-3 in the seventh on Garcia’s fourth homer of the season, a single by Viciedo and a triple by Alejandro De Aza off Junichi Tazawa.
But Dempster pitched well long enough to give the Red Sox a chance.
“It was great to have him back out there,” Victorino said.
NOTES: Jon Danks (4-10) pitches for Chicago against Jake Peavy (10-5) on Saturday in the second game of the three-game series. … Ramirez returned to the starting lineup at SS after missing his first game of the season. … Chicago’s six-game road winning streak ended. … Boston left the bases loaded in the third and sixth. … Chicago acquired Garcia from Detroit on July 30 in a three-team trade that sent Peavy to Boston. … TheRed Sox became the first AL team to win 80 games. … Santiago allowed more than three earned runs in a road game for the first time in his career.