By The Sports Xchange
CHICAGO — Mike Foltynewicz showed he has bounced back from dealing with bone spurs in his elbow – in a big way.
In front of family and friends, the right-hander struck out a career-high 10 batters in seven innings as the Atlanta Braves posted a 2-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday afternoon to win their three-game series that concludes the first half of the season.
“God almighty, that was a little glimpse of what he’s capable of,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said. “That was electric the entire day.”
Foltynewicz (3-3), who attended high school in Chicago suburb Minooka, allowed five singles and no walks in his first appearance against the White Sox.
“Huge sigh of relief. It was fun being out there,” Foltynewicz. “I tried to put my whole family and friends in the back of my head and stay aggressive.”
Jeff Francoeur and Jace Peterson homered for the last-place Braves, who won three of four before the All-Star break.
Foltynewicz was 1-3 with a 6.20 ERA in four previous road starts. He struck out the side in the seventh in his third start since coming off the disabled list for elbow discomfort.
“We can really just put that all behind us – just focus on cleaning up the mechanics a little bit, getting the slider down, the curveball down a little bit more and, yeah, put that in the back of my head,” he said. “It’s a normal game now.”
Jim Johnson allowed one hit in the ninth inning to secure his second save.
The White Sox (45-43) were trying to win six consecutive series for the first time since 2010. They finished the first half of the season with a winning record for the first time since 2012.
“He was fantastic,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Foltynewicz. “He has great stuff, any time you can get it up there around 100. Our guys just couldn’t get on it and any time we got something going, he snuffed it out.”
Foltynewicz ended his outing with a 97-mph fastball to strike out Dioner Navarro in the seventh.
“I just really put my mind to stay aggressive,” Foltynewicz said. “It’s a really aggressive hitting team. Day games, they will probably be swinging even more, so just let the defense do the work and when I got ahead I finally put them away today.”
James Shields (4-10) allowed two runs and six hits in 7 2/3 innings for his longest outing since Sept. 5, 2014. Shields has allowed eight runs in his last 25 1/3 innings after he gave up 21 earned runs in his first 8 2/3 frames with the White Sox, who acquired him from the Padres on June 4.
“I was being aggressive in the zone, attacking the hitters with the fastball early, trying to keep ahead in the count,” Shields said. “I got behind in the count with a few hitters there, but really I only made two bad pitches today, and unfortunately we lost the game.”
The Braves are 7-12 after a season-high six-game winning streak.
Francoeur homered for the second consecutive game to put the Braves ahead in the second. His fifth homer of the season extended his hitting streak to a season-high seven games.
Peterson added a two-out solo shot – his fourth of the season – in the third. The Braves rank last in the majors in home runs but hit eight in the series against the White Sox.
“Swung the bats well. Chicago’s good to us, this trip,” Snitker said.
A.J. Pierzynski became the fourth catcher in major league history to record his 400th double when he doubled in the fifth against his former team. He joins Ivan Rodriguez, Ted Simmons and Carlton Fisk on the list.
The Braves had a couple defensive highlights. Left fielder Chase d’Arnaud reached into the stands to make a catch in the second inning. Right fielder Nick Markakis robbed Avisail Garcia of an extra-base hit with a catch at the wall in the eighth.
“The defense saved me once again,” Foltynewicz said.
NOTES: White Sox LHP Jose Quintana (7-8, 3.21 ERA) is an All-Star for the first time. He was named a replacement for the Indians’ Danny Salazar (elbow) on Sunday. The other White Sox All-Star is LHP Chris Sale. 3B Todd Frazier will try to defend his Home Run Derby title. … White Sox closer David Robertson is unavailable until after the All-Star break due to a strained left leg. Ventura said Robertson was feeling better before Sunday’s game. … The Braves did not use RHP Arodys Vizcaino, who has a “spot” on his elbow similar to a skin irritation, Snitker said. Vizcaino was available to pitch. ? White Sox RHP Miguel Gonzalez is expected to start Friday against the Angels to open the second half. The Braves are waiting to see if RHP Julio Teheran pitches in Tuesday’s All-Star Game to announce their rotation. … White Sox RHP Chris Beck was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte after Sunday’s game. Beck went 0-0 with an 8.10 ERA. … Braves C Tyler Flowers is expected to be re-evaluated Monday in Atlanta after he exited Saturday’s contest due to a strained left hand.