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Jose Quintana’s purpose pitch brings surging White Sox together

ST. PETERSBURG FL - MAY 30: Manager RobVenturChicago White Sox argues with umpire Mark Wegner about ejectipitcher Jose Quintanduring play

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 30: Manager Robin Ventura of the Chicago White Sox argues with umpire Mark Wegner about the ejection of pitcher Jose Quintana during play against the Tampa Bay Rays May 30, 2012 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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Updated: July 6, 2012 9:27AM



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The White Sox extended their winning streak to eight games by completing a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.

They headed for home after a 4-3 victory flying high on the team charter, a tighter and close-knit bunch.

Winning will do that.

So will players having each ­other’s backs.

At Wrigley Field, when this hot streak was just getting started a week and a half ago, it was nice guy Philip Humber throwing behind Cubs cleanup man Bryan LaHair’s neck after Paul Konerko took a pitch in the eye from Jeff Samardzija.

At Tropicana Field, it was rookie left-hander Jose Quintana throwing behind cleanup man Ben Zobrist’s legs with two out and nobody on base in the fourth inning after Gordon Beckham and A.J. Pierzynski were hit and Orlando Hudson was buzzed by Rays right-hander Alex Cobb.

Quintana was thrown out of the game by plate umpire Brian Wegner, a seemingly quick-trigger move that “shocked” Robin Ventura and led to his first ejection as a manager. Quintana wasn’t able to qualify for a win with 3 2/3 innings in his second start, but he received a greater badge of honor with pats on the back and high fives from every one of his teammates in the clubhouse after the game.

Last season, the Sox were hit 84 times. Their pitchers hit opposing batters 44 times and, as more than one team source said privately in the aftermath of Wednesday’s game, it grated on the hitters. That kind of disparity can lead to divisiveness in the clubhouse.

That’s not about to happen under Ventura and his coaching staff’s watch.

“It’s a team game and we ended up getting the win and that’s what’s important,’’ said bench coach Mark Parent, who took over as manager for Ventura after the ejections.

Will more wins come as a result? Good pitching, hitting and defense will have more to do with that than emotion. But teams have rallied behind this sort of thing before.

Flash back to the 2000 Sox, who bonded after brawling with the Detroit Tigers on April 22. Sixteen players from both sides were given suspensions from that one, and the Sox used it as a rallying point. They went on to win 95 games and capture the AL Central under manager Jerry Manuel.

The 2012 Sox, a year after “cohesive” was never used to describe a splintered clubhouse under outgoing manager Ozzie Guillen, are tight, together, bonded. They’re also 29-22 with 12 victories in their last 13 games and 16 in their last 21. They are no longer the dark horses everybody thought they were going into the season.

And they’re not going to sit around letting somebody kick sand in their face.

Good teams such as the swept-away Rays know that now. They know what was going down.

“It was pretty obvious he was trying to throw at me,’’ Zobrist said. “I think the umpire knew that too … it was smart [of Wegner] to make that call without having any warnings to either bench.’’

Through a translator, Quintana said Pierzynski called a changeup and was setting up outside. But he threw a fastball that “slipped out.’’

“When a pitcher throws behind someone like that it’s pretty obvious what their intent was regardless of the denials on the other side,’’ Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Ventura said he was surprised by the pitch location and “shocked” that Wegner ejected Quintana without warning the pitcher or the dugouts first.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,’’ Ventura said. “I was trying to get a better understanding of it, and we agreed to disagree. He felt there was intent, so that’s what he went with. I didn’t agree.’’

Parent said Sox pitchers are throwing inside more.

“And that’s good,’’ he said.

Not to hit people intentionally but to command both sides of the plate.

“If [Quintana] happened to do something on purpose … I’m not sure he did,’’ Parent said. “Guys do it all the time, and yeah, it’s sticking up for your teammates.’’



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