BOSTON -- The look on Phil Humber's face didn't exactly fit for a pitcher who had just turned in another dominant mound effort during the White Sox 10-7 victory over the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Maybe it was the question or the mention of the words All-Star attached to his name causing Humber to look as if he had digested something sour.
"You don't hear me talking about that," said a smiling Humber, snapping off a response to the All-Star question as if he was breaking off an unhittable curve against the Boston hitters. "I'm just trying to help us get a win, claw back to where we need to be."
But why shouldn't there be consideration for Humber to make a trip to Arizona for the Midsummer Classic, at least as the month of May comes to a close? Sure, his 4-3 record isn't exactly overwhelming, but his 3.06 ERA puts him up near the top of the American League, and seven quality starts certainly won't hurt his argument.
Getting that All-Star nod actually stands as remote at best for the right-hander. There's no question, though, Humber has made it almost impossible for the White Sox (26-31) to walk away from a six-man rotation, and if they do, Humber seems a very likely candidate to remain as one of the five left standing.
"This guy keeps showing people he's improved himself against good-hitting clubs, and he gets it done," said manager Ozzie Guillen of his best starter throughout the first half of the 2011 season. "[I'm] very impressed with what he's done lately."
"He got a lead and he threw a lot of strikes, especially with his offspeed pitches," said Boston manager Terry Francona of Humber, who gave up four runs on nine hits and fanned five, while matching a career high by working 7 2/3 innings. "[He got] a lot of swings and misses, a lot of not real good swings on his breaking ball."
Humber cruised through the first seven innings virtually unscathed, but the powerful offense of the Red Sox (30-25) erupted for four runs on four hits in the eighth. The deciding blow came when David Ortiz launched his 12th home run over the Green Monster against left-handed reliever Will Ohman.
That blast simply cut a 10-1 lead for the White Sox to 10-5, giving Guillen no reason to panic and a chance to use reliever Brian Bruney for the first time this season. When Boston scored two off the veteran and placed Kevin Youkilis on-deck as the tying run with two outs and a runner on second, Guillen went to left-hander Chris Sale to get the final out.
Sergio Santos has been featured in most of the ninth-inning save opportunities of late. But with the left-handed-hitting Adrian Gonzalez stepping into the batters' box, Guillen turned to the hard-throwing rookie.
Sale went with two fastballs and a slider to strike out one of the AL's top hitters on three pitches. The White Sox picked up their sixth straight win at Fenway Park, marking their longest winning streak in Boston since taking seven straight from July 12, 1958, to May 14, 1959.
A game-deciding situation didn't seem to exist for Sale when the White Sox were up nine in the seventh. But Sale has been ready for any situation, whether he's getting in some work in the seventh or eighth or trying for his second save of the season.
"That's been my thinking since Day 1," Sale said. "Whenever that phone rings and it's my name, just go out there and not worry about the situation or the hitter and what inning it is. Our plan was to go out there and attack, throwing strikes, and hey, it worked out for the best this time."
"They're really good, man -- especially in this ballpark," said Humber of the Red Sox. "Even though we scored 10 runs, no lead is safe against that lineup."
Boston spot-starter Alfredo Aceves (2-1) entered the second of this three-game set with a run of 58 consecutive appearances dating back to his last regular-season loss on May 26, 2009. Aceves also had won each of his last 12 decisions and carried with him a career record of 16-1.
None of those numbers seemed to bother the White Sox. They knocked out Aceves after five-plus innings, scoring eight runs on eight hits.
After a quiet first, the White Sox took a 4-0 lead in the second. Gordon Beckham singled home one run, but it was Alexei Ramirez's two-out single to center that brought home Beckham and Brent Morel to give Chicago an early cushion.
Single runs came home in the in the third and fourth for the White Sox, before sending Francona to his bench for mid-game substitutions via a four-run sixth. Juan Pierre's hard chopper over Gonzalez scored two runs, Carlos Quentin's double off the Green Monster scored a third and Paul Konerko completed the rally with a sacrifice fly.
Ramirez tied a career high with four hits, adding three RBIs, while Beckham turned in his fifth three-hit game of the season. The White Sox conclude this three-city, 10-game road trip Wednesday afternoon, looking to improve their mark on this excursion to a break-even 5-5.
Gavin Floyd will try to put together an All-Star caliber performance like the ones consistently turned in by Humber, who arguably has become the best story out of a slow White Sox start to the 2011 season.
"His body language on the mound is unbelievable," Guillen said. "Strikes, making big pitches when he has to. I can sit here talking great things about him all night."