MILWAUKEE – Adam Eaton knows this much: As the White Sox leadoff man, his poor April had a lot to do with the team going 8-11.
Eaton hit .192, walked only five times and had an on-base percentage of .241. He scored seven runs and drove in zero. While much of the lineup followed his lead, Eaton knew it wouldn’t last forever. For him and the White Sox, who defeated the Brewers 4-2 Wednesday to win their third series in a row, perhaps a corner has been turned.
“You can only suck for so long,” Eaton said. “I firmly believe that.’’
Whether the Sox (14-17) can continue distancing themselves from the worst teams in baseball remains to be seen. The Brewers are 12-23. After a day off Thursday, they can show more against another last-place team when they visit the Oakland A’s (13-23).
Jose Quintana (seven-plus innings, one run, 10 strikeouts) followed Chris Sale’s double-digit strikeout game the night before with one of his own. There were no errors behind him, and the Sox finally got off to a good start, scoring three runs in the first inning sparked by Eaton’s 12-pitch walk against Jimmy Nelson.
The Sox had been outscored 24-7 in the first.
“Being the leadoff hitter you want to set the tone,’’ said Eaton, who walked twice and singled. “When the team’s not hitting well, when you’re the first guy up every game you want to get things going and get guys moving in the right direction. This team is going to start hitting more because we have good hitters in this lineup. It’s only a matter of time.’’
After that first-inning walk, Eaton went to second on a wild pitch, to third on Emilio Bonifacio’s grounder to the right side and scored on Melky Cabrera’s sacrifice fly. Avisail Garcia and Adam LaRoche followed with the Sox’ first back-to-back homers of the season. The Sox are hitting .288 with 10 homers in the last 11 games after hitting .238 with 12 homers in the first 20.
“Innings are getting extended, guys are putting it in play going the other way,’’ manager Robin Ventura said.
“Everything’s coming together,” said Garcia, the Sox leader in average (.322), hits (38) and runs (18) who has hit safely in 16 of the last 18 games. This was his team-leading 13th multi-hit game.
Eaton, whose .300 average in his first full season with the Sox helped him earn a $23 million contract extension, was seeing everything come apart. Extra time with hitting coach Todd Steverson of late has helped.
“I made a few adjustments to stay in there a little longer and barrel some balls up,’’ he said.
Gordon Beckham, thriving in his role as a part-timer, played a clean game at third base and got the seventh going with a leadoff double. He scored on a two-out infield single by Emilio Bonifacio, who gave rookie Micah Johnson a day off and made a diving stop for an out at second. LaRoche, who has three homers in the six games he’s played at first base, scooped a low throw from Bonifacio to complete an inning-ending double play in the eighth.
David Robertson, who made it interesting by allowing a one-out solo home run to Carlos Gomez in the ninth and putting the tying run at the plate by walking Adam Lind, earned his seventh save in eight opportunities.
After taking two of three from the Tigers and Reds at U.S. Cellular Field, the Sox won their first series on the road, where they are 4-12.
“The last two series have been really good for us,’’ Robertson said. “We’ve had a good atmosphere in the dugout, the guys have been playing really hard, the offense is coming through, the pitching’s doing well. We’re just playing a lot better brand of baseball now.’’