CHICAGO -- Adam Dunn struck out in his first two at-bats during Monday's 5-4 victory over the Indians, so when he faced two-strike counts in each of his final two trips to the plate, that same outcome seemed possible.
But Dunn had made in-game adjustments through work in the batting cages with hitting coach Jeff Manto and by studying video, giving the prolific slugger a renewed edge. That work paid off with a solo homer and a game-winning three-run shot with two outs and a 0-2 count against Vinnie Pestano in the eighth inning.
"Jeff had a couple suggestions," Dunn said. "We were down about 15 to 20 minutes, and all went better."
"What was happening with him was that he was getting a little too far out on his legs," Manto said. "He didn't have a good base working and what we tried to do is explain, tell him to get back on his legs and stay on your legs as best as you can. He's such a good hitter that it was a simple fix. He had a chance to look at what he was doing and it coincided with what I was explaining. It was an easy thing."
Dunn's extra work between at-bats speaks to finding a greater 2012 comfort zone as designated hitter, leading to 41 homers and 94 RBIs. Dunn has spent 89 games at DH, while also playing 49 at first base and five in left field.
"I'll tell you what, that DH job is not easy. It's tough trying to stay into the game," Manto said. "Just sitting around waiting your turn is definitely a tough thing to do. But he found a routine.
"He'll go down there and get some things in place, do some drills, tee work, flips and maybe some video. The hardest thing was to get the routine. He got the routine and he's run with it."
Ventura shuffles rotation for final week
CHICAGO -- As hinted about by White Sox manager Robin Ventura over the past couple of days, Hector Santiago officially will start Wednesday night's series finale against the Indians at U.S. Cellular Field.
Inserting Santiago into the rotation puts a southpaw against a Cleveland team with a 16-35 record against left-handed starters. It also buys an extra day of rest for Jake Peavy, setting up the right-hander for Thursday's series opener against the Rays, and it looked as if it would do the same for Chris Sale, who Tuesday morning was slated to pitch the regular-season home finale on Sunday.
Sale was to get a fifth day of rest after throwing 118 pitches over seven innings during Monday's no-decision and as he sits 11 1/3 innings short of 200 in his first year as a starter. After Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Indians at U.S. Cellular Field, that rotation alignment was altered.
Gavin Floyd will pitch Friday, with Sale throwing on regular rest Saturday. Jose Quintana, who faced two batters in relief Tuesday and threw four pitches in the seventh inning, has temporarily been scratched and Sunday's starter is to be announced.
Using Sale on Sunday would have meant the All-Star and American League Cy Young candidate wasn't going be available to start a potential Game No. 163, winner-take-all AL Central tiebreaker at Comerica Park on three days' rest on Oct. 4. The White Sox hope to have the division locked up without going to the tiebreaker, and the extra starters' rest could reap benefits, but they just might have been playing it safe with the postgame Sale change.
Results from the next couple of days still could influence Saturday and Sunday's starters and the pitching lineup for the final regular-season series in Cleveland.
On five days' rest this season, Sale has a 9-3 record with a 3.11 ERA. Peavy doesn't fare quite as well, at 3-6 with a 3.71 ERA, but Quintana is 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA.
Santiago has made previous September starts against the Twins and Royals, allowing one run in nine innings, while striking out 14 and walking six. He threw before Sunday's game and then during the game, while basically throwing another bullpen session late in Monday's come-from-behind victory.
The primary goal for Santiago is to work deep into Wednesday's contest but really just give the White Sox a chance to win against a lefty-laden Cleveland lineup.
"You watch other guys get them out. You learn from them. I'm [glad] they consider me for that," said Santiago of facing the Indians. "I feel like I have a tougher time [against left-handed hitters] because of my slider, but I don't go out there and think about that."
Right-handed hitters are neutralized by Santiago's screwball, a pitch holding high confidence in his current repertoire.
"It's good right now. I've been throwing it for the past two, three weeks when I had those two starts," Santiago said. "Those two starts helped me get back into the fill of it. [Catcher] A.J. [Pierzynski] has been comfortable with it and called it three times in a row in an at-bat, so it's right where it was at in Spring Training."
Johnson likes pressure of pennant race
CHICAGO -- Dan Johnson's nine-pitch, one-out walk off of Vinnie Pestano in the eighth inning Monday night didn't have the same dramatics as his season-saving, two-out, two-strike ninth-inning homer for the Rays against the Yankees in the final game of the 2011 regular season.
But with eight games remaining in the White Sox push to the postseason, an upbeat Johnson realizes there might be more heroics to come.
"You got to start small, you know what I'm saying," said Johnson, who drew a two-out walk against Chris Perez on Tuesday to extend the ninth inning in an eventual 4-3 loss. "If it comes down to the last strike of the season, there's somebody who likes to do that kind of stuff, likes those situations. That's the way it is. It worked out.
"Obviously, you've got to get runners on to score. And obviously [Adam Dunn] came up with a big hit during that inning."
The 33-year-old veteran knocked out 28 homers and drove in 85 for Triple-A Charlotte, but did not get a call to the Majors until September. Much like the White Sox, Johnson simply focuses on what he can do on a given day and not the past or the future.
"I'm telling you, in this game, if you dwell on anything, any negativity, it's going to affect you at the plate, it's going to affect you in the field," Johnson said. "This game is too much of inches to let anything get in your mind.
"This is the way I look at it. There are nine games left and we got to make it to the playoffs. Everything else in the past is past. It doesn't matter what you've done for me lately. It's got to be right now."
Late-inning matchups important down the stretch
CHICAGO -- Addison Reed remains the White Sox closer, leading the team with 28 saves. But as the usage of southpaws Matt Thornton and then Donnie Veal against tough left-handed hitters like Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Kipnis showed Monday, everybody is available to preserve a victory with the season on the line.
"In any role, you go out there and just get outs," Veal said. "No matter what it is, what role it is, if I come in the fourth inning or the ninth inning, up by 10 or down by 10. We all try to get out there and get outs."
"Again, in the right situation it's Reeder," manager Robin Ventura said. "This [Cleveland] team's a little different because they're so left-handed dominant. I still trust him. It's just I want him to have the right matchups when he's going in there."
Third to first
Matt Thornton has 26 holds, leaving him four shy of tying Barry Jones' single-season franchise record of 30, set in 1990.
The White Sox rank second in the Majors with 202 homers, trailing only the Yankees, who began Tuesday with 229. The White Sox are 71-39 when hitting a homer and 43-14 with multiple homers.
Alejandro De Aza grounded into his first double play of the season in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Indians. It came in his 571st plate appearance.
Nate Jones has thrown 21 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings over his last 19 appearances, the longest active streak in the Majors.
The White Sox have a 35-34 second-half record and saw their six-game winning streak against the Indians come to an end.