CHICAGO -- — When Carlos Rodón needed more, he found it.
Pitching on extended rest in the middle of a pennant race, it was an encouraging sign for the left-hander — and the Chicago White Sox.
Rodón worked five effective innings and José Abreu hit a three-run homer, leading the White Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
Luis Robert added an RBI single as Chicago bounced back from a 2-4 road trip. The AL Central leaders also got steady innings from Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks after the Red Sox rallied in the seventh.
“Everybody had each other's backs,” Kimbrel said.
Rodón (12-5) allowed one run and three hits in his first start since Sept. 1. He struck out seven and walked none.
The 28-year-old Rodón had his turn pushed back because of shoulder soreness. He also spent time on the IL last month with shoulder fatigue.
But he had his usual velocity when he needed it the most, going into the upper 90s to strike out José Iglesias and Kiké Hernández with a runner on third in the third.
“It's a check off the list that I can reach back, hit that velocity,” said Rodón, who threw 86 pitches, 62 for strikes. “Just also get the pitch count up as well.”
Boston lost for the fourth time in five games, but it maintained its one-game lead for the top AL wild card because of the New York Yankees' 10-3 loss to the Mets. It also remained nine games back of AL East-leading Tampa Bay, which lost 10-4 at Detroit.
All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts returned after being sidelined by COVID-19, but ace left-hander Chris Sale was placed on the injured list after he tested positive. The seven-time All-Star also had a mild bout with COVID-19 in January that required him to quarantine for two weeks.
“It’s unfortunate, but he’ll be back,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He feels good."
It was Bogaerts' first game since Aug. 31, but it was hard to tell. He had two hits and made an athletic grab in short left field to retire Leury García in the fourth.
Bobby Dalbec hit his 21st homer for Boston. He also tripled and scored as part of a two-run seventh that got the Red Sox within one.
But Kimbrel worked around Bogaerts' one-out walk in the eighth, and Hendriks earned his 34th save. With one out and a runner on second, the All-Star closer retired Alex Verdugo on a grounder to shortstop before pinch-hitter Travis Shaw flied out.
“We kept battling,” Cora said. “That's a good baseball game right there.”
Abreu backed Rodón with his 29th homer, a two-out drive to left on an 0-2 pitch from Tanner Houck (0-4) in the third. The reigning AL MVP leads the majors with 107 RBI.
Houck was charged with four runs, three earned, and four hits in 3 2/3 innings. The rookie right-hander also lost to the White Sox on April 18, yielding three runs in 4 1/3 innings.
“Home runs are going to happen, 0-2, mistakes are going to happen,” Houck said. “But I'm more upset with myself that I just didn't pitch to what I see as my strengths.”
Red Sox: DH J.D. Martinez was scratched because of back spasms. Cora indicated Martinez likely will be out again on Saturday. ... In addition to Sale, INF Jonathan Araúz also was placed on the COVID-19 list. The team said Araúz has some symptoms, but he has tested negative multiple times. ... LHP Darwinzon Hernandez was activated from the 10-day injured list after being sidelined by a right oblique strain. Hernandez pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Houck.
White Sox: OF Eloy Jiménez returned to the starting lineup after missing two games with a bruised right knee. He went 1 for 4 while serving as the designated hitter. ... RHP Lance Lynn was activated from the 10-day injured list, and RHP Jimmy Lambert was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Lynn had been sidelined by right knee inflammation. He is slated to start Sunday's series finale.
Dylan Cease (11-7, 3.87 ERA) starts Saturday night for Chicago. The right-hander also faced Boston on April 17, allowing two runs in 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision. Cora said the Red Sox haven't settled on a starter for Saturday, but there's a good chance it will be Connor Seabold making his big league debut.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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