Crain's on his game, but don't tell him so

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jesse Crain knows he has been pitching very well out of the Chicago White Sox's bullpen this season. He just doesn’t want to know how well.

The veteran right-hander did his job again Thursday night against the Los Angeles Angels, pitching a scoreless eighth inning in the 5-4 victory for his American League-leading 11th hold. Crain has not allowed a run in his past 15 appearances to lower his ERA to 1.00.

“Just don’t remind me of them,” Crain said when asked about his stellar numbers. “I don’t look at that kind of stuff.”

If he looked a little closer, Crain might notice he has been just as tough on left-handed hitters as those from the right side in his 10-year career, the first seven of which were spent with the Minnesota Twins. Left-handed hitters came into Thursday’s game hitting .231 off Crain in his career, compared to .227 for right-handers.

“Over the last couple years, I’ve thrown my changeup, my split-changeup and my curveball more, which gives me three weapons against the lefties,” he said. “I throw all my pitches to righties, but to lefties I can throw all four at any time. I think that’s a big advantage for me.”

Crain said he learned a lot from watching former Twins closer Joe Nathan. One thing that sticks with him lately is not getting too high or too low off his performances.

“Just take it one day at a time,” he said. “You’re going to have good days and bad days. You’re only as good as your next time out there, so you just try to focus on being ready every day.”

When the top of the eighth began Thursday, it appeared the White Sox might not need Crain's services. Then they scored three runs in the inning to move ahead 5-4 and manager Robin Ventura quickly summoned for Crain to get loose.

Facing the heart of the Angels' lineup, he got Albert Pujols to ground out to third, gave up a double to Mark Trumbo, then got Josh Hamilton to fly out to center and Howie Kendrick to ground to second. Addison Reed then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 13th save.

Rotation at DH duties pays dividends

Adam Dunn started at first base for the fourth consecutive game and Paul Konerko was the designated hitter for the second straight game, a move that may be giving the White Sox some pep in the middle of the batting order.

Dunn went 2-for-4 with an RBI on Thursday and is 5-for-10 in the past three games to raise his average from .145 to .167. Konerko, who was given back-to-back days off earlier this week after feeling “run down” following last weekend’s series against the visiting Angels, has a base hit in the past two games to raise his average to .216.

“It was nice to kind of catch a breath,” Konerko said of the two days off in Minnesota. “Sometimes, when things aren’t going well, the answer is always to work harder. Sometimes, you can over-train a little bit, and I probably did that a little too much.”

Ventura said he expects Konerko will play first base at some point during the Anaheim series, with Dunn returning to DH duties.

“I don’t know if either one of them is a perfect DH to just sit in the dugout,” Ventura said.