ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Daniel Palka did a lot more than avoid a fifth consecutive strikeout.
Palka hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the ninth inning and the Chicago White Sox completed their first three-game sweep in a year by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 8-7 on Sunday.
It was Chicago’s first three-game sweep since Aug. 8-10, 2017 against Houston. The White Sox’s last three-game road sweep occurred April 25-27, 2016 at Toronto.
Chicago also has a season-high four-game winning streak.
“I think it just builds confidence for these guys,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. They’re starting to see that they can pick each other up.”
Palka had struck out in each of his first four at-bats before connecting on his 17th homer off Diego Castillo (2-2) with two outs.
“I was jokingly saying earlier that I was just trying to make contact, but that’s really what I was doing,” Palka said. “I just had to forget the first eight-ninths of the game and move on from there.”
It was the sixth time since 1908 that a White Sox player has homered and struck out at least four times in a game, according to Baseball Reference. Alex Avila last did it on Sept. 5, 2016 against Detroit.
Hector Santiago (4-3) went the final 1 1/3 innings for the win.
C.J Cron had a leadoff double in the ninth off Santiago and scored one out later on Kevin Kiermaier’s two-base hit. After Brandon Lowe walked, Jesus Sucre hit into a double play.
Tampa Bay tops the majors in one-run losses (26) and one-run games (46).
“They did things to take advantage of opportunities and ultimately found ways to win all three games,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Avisail Garcia had a solo homer in a two-run fifth and made it 6-4 on another solo shot during the seventh for the White Sox. It was his eighth career multi-homer game.
Ji-Man Choi tied it at 6-all with a two-run single in the seventh, an inning that saw the White Sox use four relievers.
Chicago starter James Shields left with a two-run lead but was denied his first road win since opening day. The one-time Tampa Bay ace threw a season-high 114 pitches, allowing four runs, five hits and four walks over six innings.
“I really didn’t have anything, to be honest with you,” Shields said. “I had no feel for the baseball.”
The Rays honored their 2008 AL championship team, which Shields was on, this weekend.
“This whole weekend was very special for me personally, to come and see the boys from 2008 and celebrate,” Shields said.
Tim Anderson had two RBI singles for the White Sox.
Joey Wendle had three hits, including a first-inning RBI single and a solo homer in the fifth that pulled the Rays within 5-4.
WHITE SOX: CF Leury Garcia left with left hamstring soreness and will evaluated Monday.
Rays: INF Daniel Robertson saw a hand specialist and will have what is expected to be season-ending surgery this week on his sprained left thumb. He was hurt sliding into second on a double Friday night. “It’s disappointing, very disappointing,” Robertson said. . LHP Blake Snell (left shoulder fatigue) reported no issues after making his first start Saturday since the All-Star Game on July 17th. He also downplayed any concern about his lower leg, which was struck by Jose Abreu’s first-inning single, saying it was fine.
Mallex Smith replaced struggling Kiermaier as the Rays’ leadoff hitter and went 4 for 5. Smith is hitting .299 with a .369 on-base percentage, compared to Kiermaier’s .189 average and .269 O-B-P. “KK has been really accountable,” Cash said. “He was actually the one who came up and said ‘I don’t feel like I’m getting it done.’” Kiermaier was dropped to sixth and doubled in four at-bats and walked once.
White Sox: RHP Dylan Covey (4-7) will face New York Yankees RHP Lance Lynn (7-8) Monday night.
Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-0) will make his second since being acquired from Pittsburgh in the Chris Archer trade against Baltimore Tuesday night.