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Floyd takes no-hitter into seventh in win

CHICAGO -- There seemed to be a slight difference of opinion as to how much thought was given to Gavin Floyd's no-hit bid during the course of a 4-1 White Sox victory over the Red Sox on Sunday.

White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said that sort of special stuff doesn't come up in conversation until the seventh or eighth inning. Manager Robin Ventura wasn't sure if a no-hitter or perfect game could be visualized, but he admitted that people were probably doing just that in the finale of this four-game series.

As for Floyd and his on-field victims, who were hitless for 6 1/3 innings? Well, a history-making performance certainly did cross their minds in the formative stages of this two-hour, 58-minute affair.

"Absolutely. Especially since Phil [Humber] did it recently, so it was natural," said Floyd, referring to Humber's perfect game in Seattle on April 21. "But, obviously, you've got to put it behind you. Your object is to get in there as late as you can and if it happens, it happens. You've just got to keep your focus and keep attacking."

"For me, it started after the third inning," said Boston left fielder Cody Ross of Floyd's zip job. "He'd gone through the lineup once around and we didn't get a hit or a walk. I was thinking to myself, 'He's got the stuff today to make something happen.' Fortunately, we weren't on the receiving end of that."

Ross became the first baserunner against Floyd (2-3) in the fifth inning, when he drew a two-out walk. Prior to that free pass, Floyd had gone to three-ball counts on three other hitters and hadn't given up anything resembling a hit.

No spectacular plays or lucky breaks were needed.

Floyd carried his no-hitter into the seventh, with Ryan Sweeney striking out to open the frame. Dustin Pedroia got ahead in the count at 2-1 and then grounded a single up the middle that was just out of the diving attempt by second baseman Eduardo Escobar.

That Pedroia hit brought an end to Floyd's fourth career start in which he threw at least six hitless innings.

"Just pitching like he normally does," said Ross of Floyd, who fanned nine and walked one in improving to 7-0 lifetime against the Red Sox. "He was spotting with his fastball, getting his breaking ball over for strikes and then burying it late, working both sides of the plate. He kept us off-balance. He was throwing curveballs in hitters' counts. It was just a great job on his part."

"Gavin pitched well and deserves a ton of credit for the way he held down a lineup that has been hot," Pierzynski said. "There was never a thought of perfect game or no-hitter or any of that stuff. You are trying to get through because you know at any moment they could strike for a bloop and then a home run and they are right back in the game."

The Red Sox (10-11) didn't get that bloop and a blast. But David Ortiz got to Floyd for a two-out double after Pedroia's hit, and Ross singled home Pedroia to break the shutout. That hit also brought in Addison Reed from the bullpen after Floyd's 111 pitches, with the right-hander retiring Nick Punto on a grounder to first baseman Adam Dunn.

Matt Thornton followed up Reed after a two-out walk in the eighth issued to Mike Aviles and retired the final four hitters to record his first save since July 2, 2011, at Wrigley Field. The talk on this afternoon was about Floyd, who, according to Pierzynski, changed his pitching style against the red-hot Red Sox.

"He had a good curveball, but the thing he did best was he used his fastball more than he has in a long time," Pierzynski said. "He threw it in big situations, where as the last few years, that's been a slider. Today, he threw some fastballs and I think he surprised them. He just had such a good fastball and kept throwing them by guys that we kept going to it."

"What Gavin and Jake [Peavy] did the last two games, after seeing what their offense could do in the first two games, it was amazing," Thornton said. "I thought we were going to see something really special again. Instead, it was just an unbelievable outing, and a great, great start for him."

Dunn supplied the difference on offense, giving the White Sox an 11-11 record as the month of April comes to a close and putting an end to Boston's season-best six-game winning streak. Dunn's two-run blast off Josh Beckett (2-3), a titanic clout covering 419 feet down the right-field line, completed a three-run first inning.

Alejandro De Aza opened the frame with a single, was sacrificed to second by Brent Lillibridge and scored on Alex Rios' single to left. Dunn connected on a 3-1, 92-mph fastball for his fifth homer and 15th and 16th RBIs.

"Whenever you get a guy like him, you gotta score early," said Dunn of getting to Beckett. "He's a workhorse, man. Those guys only get better. Usually your best chance to get runs is early and we were able to do that."

This early outburst gave Floyd room to work in pursuit of the franchise's 19th no-hitter. He didn't hit that goal but ended the club's season-worst five-game losing streak.

"It's always good to end a five-game losing streak," said a smiling Ventura, leaving no room for debate on that topic.

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