Dylan Cease walked Marcus Semien with two outs in the second inning Friday night.
That was the last Texas Rangers batter to reach against the Chicago White Sox starter, who retired the final 13 he faced.
Cease allowed one run on two hits in six innings, Eloy Jiménez hit a go-ahead home run in the fourth and the Sox beat the Rangers 2-1 in front of 25,470 at Globe Life Field.
Cease struck out five and walked three on the way to his 13th consecutive start of allowing one or no earned runs, breaking a tie with Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets (2021) for the longest streak since the stat became official in 1913 (excluding openers).
“It’s definitely the best I’ve ever pitched in my life,” Cease said of the stretch. “I’m happy about it. I’m happy to be giving us a chance. Hope to keep it going.”
Cease improved to 12-4 while lowering his ERA to 1.98. He and relievers Joe Kelly, Kendall Graveman and Liam Hendriks combined for a three-hitter as the Sox moved into a tie with the Cleveland Guardians for second place in the American League Central. Both teams are two games behind the Minnesota Twins.
“It’s why we come every day,” Cease said of the win. “So definitely big one.”
The one run Cease allowed came in the first, and it was set up by consecutive two-out walks to Jonah Heim and Nathaniel Lowe. Heim scored on an Adolis García single.
In the second, Cease allowed a one-out single to Bubba Thompson and the two-out walk to Semien. And then nothing else during the rest of his 91-pitch outing.
“I wasn’t very sharp early and then I was able to make an adjustment around the second or third, and after that it was pretty solid,” Cease said. “It’s just a mechanical get down the mound better kind of cue.”
The Sox tied the game in the third.
Yasmani Grandal began the inning with a walk. Semien, the Rangers second baseman, couldn’t corral Josh Harrison’s grounder, and the ball bounced into shallow center field. Grandal went from first to third on the play. Seby Zavala brought Grandal home with a sacrifice fly to center.
The Sox went ahead the next inning on Jiménez’s sixth homer of the season.
“When I hit it, I said I hit it good,” Jiménez said of the 437-foot blast to left-center. “But this ballpark is huge, so I started running right away.”
Cease, meanwhile, found a groove.
“He had (45) pitches after two innings, and he ended up pitching through the sixth,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “Young man continues to impress (and) amaze.
“Works so hard and he just settled down, and that was another side that we haven’t seen where he can get that deep in a game when he started off having so many issues.”
Cease received defensive help in the fifth when right fielder Andrew Vaughn made a nice running catch on Corey Seager’s liner to right-center. Cease struck out two of the final three batters he faced in the sixth.
“The biggest thing is I wasn’t throwing strikes (early in the game), so they were laying off,” Cease said. “Once I started throwing strikes, they were swinging early and I was able to get myself back into it.”
The Rangers threatened in the eighth, loading the bases with two outs. Graveman got Leody Taveras to ground out to first baseman José Abreu to escape the trouble.
Hendriks struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth for his 22nd save of the season and the 100th of his career.
“It’s obviously a milestone, especially with closers because you tend to fluctuate a little bit with relievers,” Hendriks said. “To be able to be as consistent as I’ve been over the last three years-ish, four years — it’s not a longer streak — but just being able to be gifted those opportunities that I’ve been able to get at the back end and take advantage of what I’ve been given and go out and earn the next one, that’s something that I pride myself on.”