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updated: 7/2/2014 11:17 PM

Sox playing better, still have ways to go

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  • Alexei Ramirez hits a two-run single against the Los Angeles Angels during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Chicago on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

    Alexei Ramirez hits a two-run single against the Los Angeles Angels during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Chicago on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.
    Associated Press


The calendar has flipped to July, and in major-league baseball, that means the nonwaiver trade deadline is lurking at the end of the month.

But even after edging the Angels 3-2 Wednesday night on pinch-hitter Leury Garcia's RBI single with one out in the ninth inning, the White Sox (40-46) are not performing like a playoff contender.

According to manager Robin Ventura, the Sox are in much better shape than they were at this point last season, when they were 34-52 en route to losing 99 games. And the trade rumors are not nearly as rampant.

"It was bad last year," Ventura understated. "I think that (rumors) was a little more in your face. Here, you see, it's just better, as far as being able to compete with certain teams and playing better.

"There are spurts of playing better that you see and then a few games that you don't. It's pretty inconsistent, but last year was just bad."

This year's up-and-down White Sox got a nice lift from Garcia, who replaced Moises Sierra at the plate and laced a single to left field against Michael Morin, bringing hom Alejandro De Aza with the winning run.

Los Angeles went with a five-man infield when Garcia came to the plate, putting outfielder Kole Calhoun on the dirt.

While the rain-soaked fans at U.S. Cellular Field were probaby anticipating a squeeze bunt, Garcia wound up swinging the bat and bagging the first game-winning hit of his career.

"I had never seen (Morin) before, so I just tried to see the ball and hit the ball and see what happens," Garcia said. "That's what I did, and we got the win."

If the Sox had lost, Ventura would have been widely ripped for letting starter John Danks go back out in the eighth inning with a pitch count of 107.

Danks was effective all night, outside of a high changeup to David Freese in the seventh that left the park.

After he struck out Mike Trout for the third time and got Albert Pujols to flyout for the second out of the eighth inning, Danks hung another changeup and Josh Hamilton homered to tie the game.

Danks said he wasn't tired.

"I felt great," the left-hander said after matching his career high with 10 strikeouts. "I actually wanted the eighth and it's unfortunate I wasn't able to get out of it. I certainly wanted to go back out in the eighth inning."

Obviously wary of his erratic bullpen, Ventura had no problem letting Danks stay in the game.

"He had gone through that part of the lineup and done pretty well," Ventura said. "He had a really good changeup going, had them swinging and missing. You take what you've seen tonight and put it out there. He felt strong, talking to him in between the seventh and eighth, he felt great.

"So it's not an easy part of the lineup to go through, but the way he was pitching tonight and previously how he had gone through that part of the lineup, you give him a shot at it. I felt that was the best way to go."

• Follow Scot's White Sox and baseball reports on Twitter@scotgregor.

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