ARLINGTON -- Walking the leadoff hitter in four straight innings certainly isn't a conducive recipe for success on most afternoons or evenings at the ballpark.
But that exact formula worked for White Sox starter Erik Johnson (1-1) during a 16-2 victory over the Rangers in Sunday afternoon's series finale at Globe Life Park. Johnson, Ronald Belisario, Andre Rienzo and Matt Lindstrom combined to actually two-hit the Rangers, despite six free passes issued and two Texas hit batsmen.
"Even though they had two hits, it seemed like they had a lot of action," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his pitching against the Rangers. "You are either effectively wild or effectively lucky. Probably had a little bit of everything.
"There was a little Harry Houdini in there and being able to get out of it and get through it. Guys came through with a few runs and then some tack-on runs and put it away."
Those tack-on runs totaled seven in the ninth inning off of reliever Hector Noesi, when 11 men came to the plate. By the time this frame was complete, Marcus Semien had a career-high four hits, while Jose Abreu, Tyler Flowers and Dayan Viciedo had three apiece.
It was quite an outburst for an offense that had scored just four runs in its previous three games.
"Today was the White Sox day," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "They hit balls, they hit bags, they found holes. I think you've got to give them credit for putting the ball in play and making things happen."
"We put together good at-bats," said Semien, who moved to the leadoff spot with Adam Eaton out of the lineup. "We swung at strikes. We got pitches up and hit the ball the other way. If you hit the ball the other way, right field here, it can get in the jet stream and get out of the ballpark. I'm happy with how we played. I'm happy with how we played defense as well. It was a good overall team win."
Johnson left after five innings and 87 pitches, of which only 44 were thrown for strikes.
Johnson walked Shin-Soo Choo in the first, but Choo was caught stealing by Flowers. He walked Prince Fielder in the second, but Mitch Moreland erased him with a double-play grounder. He walked Josh Wilson in the third, and Wilson scored on Choo's sacrifice fly.
That run was set up by Leonys Martin's single off Abreu's glove, which stood up as the only hit off Johnson. There was then a walk to Elvis Andrus in the fourth with Andrus swiping second, moving to third on a Flowers' throwing error and scoring on a wild pitch.
Even in the fifth, Johnson needed nine pitches to retire Wilson on a line out to Semien at second base on a 3-2 offering to open the frame. Johnson gave credit to Flowers' game-calling to get him through on a day when he didn't have top-of-the-line control.
"Five walks is a lot," said Johnson, who did issue one intentionally and struck out two. "I gave them way too much for what they got and I'm just lucky [we] could turn a few double plays. It's not the day I wanted, but I'll take it.
"In the big situations, I thought Flow put down some good fingers and he called a good game for what I was working with. I did make some big pitches when I needed them."
Jordan Danks started the White Sox scoring with a two-run homer in the third off Ross (1-1) and off the upper deck facing in right, scoring Flowers. The White Sox (9-10) added three runs in the fifth on Conor Gillaspie's sacrifice fly and Abreu's opposite field, 403-foot homer to right-center, his fifth. They put up three more in the sixth on Semien's bases-clearing triple.
Texas (11-8) elected to walk Danks intentionally to load the bases with two outs in the sixth to get to Semien. But Semien made them pay by launching a 1-2 curve ball from Shawn Tolleson deep to left-center.
"I got to 0-2 quick, so it felt good to battle back and get those runs in," Semien said. "I've been having a slow series here, so it was good to get that extra-base hit."
Viciedo added his first homer, an opposite field shot to right in the seventh, before the ninth-inning outburst. About the only thing that didn't go right for the White Sox was a sixth-inning challenge in an at-bat involving Alejandro De Aza.
With runners on first and third and nobody out, De Aza was potentially hit by a pitch and called out on a checked swing. The call on the field was that De Aza was not hit by a pitch.
Ventura challenged that ruling, but the ruling of De Aza not being hit stood. De Aza was out on a checked swing, leaving the White Sox 0-for-3 on challenges this season.
This moment of confusion didn't prevent the White Sox from snapping a four-game losing streak as they embark on a four-game trip to Detroit.
"Any time you get runs, it's good. Guys swung the bat today," Ventura said. "The other stuff, just letting guys get on and it's just an odd game."
"I'm glad we put some runs on the board today. Tomorrow we'll try and do the same thing," Semien said. "You're not always going to get that many hits, but put a good amount of hits up, a good amount of runs up and see what our pitchers can do."