Hot times for Sox in July

CHICAGO -- Yes, the pitching rotation is anxiety inducing, as Andrew Miller demonstrated yet again Sunday, but let's not exaggerate how desperate life is without Clay Buchholz.

Truth is, Buchholz has been out six weeks, and the Red Sox have barely missed a beat. By beating the White Sox, 5-3, on Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox finished the month with a 20-6 record and .769 winning percentage, their best-ever July record.

The Red Sox took two out of three from the White Sox, giving them wins in seven of their eight series this month. They split their only other series this month, last week's four-gamer with the Royals.

"We've been playing good ball. We just have to keep it rolling. We don't have that big of a lead in the division, so we have to play good baseball," said Dustin Pedroia, who had the go-ahead single in the seventh inning.

Miller labored Sunday, allowing 10 hits, walking a batter, hitting another and throwing a wild pitch, all in the span of 5 2/3 innings. But the White Sox managed just three runs out of all that activity, stranding 10, and the Sox bullpen had another strong afternoon, Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon shutting down the Chicagoans.

Papelbon struck out the side for his 24th save, with the win going to Aceves (7-1) and Bard running his scoreless streak to 26 1/3 innings.

"Aceves comes in like he's been doing, Bard came in and got four outs on not a lot of pitches and Pap came in and sewed it up. The extra run was nice to have," Boston manager Terry Francona said.

Jason Varitek's two-run home run in the second and Pedroia's two-run single in the seventh, the latter wiping out a 3-2 deficit, generated sufficient offense for the Sox, who return home for seven games against two AL contenders, the Indians (4) and Yankees (3).

Adrian Gonzalez doubled home a run in the ninth, his second double of the game, extending to seven the number of consecutive games he has had with multiple hits. That's the longest such stretch for Gonzalez, who is batting .534 (23-for-43) during a 10-game hitting streak.