BOSTON -- Jose Contreras turned a tweaked Chicago lineup and a little clubhouse chat into the perfect remedy for the White Sox.
Contreras pitched eight strong innings and Jim Thome went 4-for-4 with his 39th homer in a revamped White Sox lineup to carry Chicago to an 8-1 win over the Boston Red Sox Wednesday night.
Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen held a clubhouse meeting before the game and shifted the lineup in attempt to wake up his slumping team, dropping Scott Podsednik from the top of the order to eighth and giving Ryan Sweeney his first career start at leadoff.
It seemed to work.
"Ozzie just had a couple of things he wanted say, there was no yelling or screaming," Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "He just said, `Go out and play hard'. It was good timing."
The win was the second in seven games for the defending World Series champion White Sox, who moved to a half game behind the Twins in the AL wild-card chase. The Red Sox remained six back with Minnesota's 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay.
Contreras (12-7), who was 0-3 in his previous four starts, held the Red Sox to one run and four hits with nine strikeouts and one walk. He fanned five consecutive batters in the first and second innings.
"I think we've been waiting for this day for a while," Guillen said of Contreras. "He threw the ball great against a good hitting ballclub. His split-finger fastball was the best in a long time."
Jermaine Dye hit his 40th homer for Chicago, a two-run shot, to make it 7-1 in the fourth.
Dye said Guillen's chat just helped the team relax.
"It wasn't really a talk," Dye said. "(He said) forget about what happened the last two nights, put it behind us."
Coco Crisp homered and had three hits for the Red Sox, who scored three runs or less for 13th time in 14 games. Manny Ramirez was lifted from the game in the fifth, but the club said he wasn't injured.
Unlike the first two games of the series, when the Red Sox got strong starting pitching from unlikely sources, Chicago pounded Boston starter Kyle Snyder, opening an 8-1 lead after four innings.
"That's the last thing you want to do, open the door for them, and we did," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "I'd rather have it wait a day and have them do it on somebody else. You want to keep them quiet until they get out of here."
Boston won the first two games of the series, holding the White Sox to two runs. The White Sox jumped ahead 4-0 against Snyder (4-4) with four runs in the second.
Thome's homer sailed over the Red Sox' bullpen to lead off the inning. Alex Cintron, in the lineup to replace the slumping Juan Uribe, hit a two-run double after Paul Konerko, Joe Crede and Podsednik each singled to load the bases. Sweeney followed with a run-scoring grounder, scoring Podsednik.
Pierzynski's RBI double made it 5-0 and chased Snyder in the third. Boston got its only run when Crisp homered in the bottom of the inning.
Chicago broke it open with three runs off reliever Lenny DiNardo in the fourth. Dye homered over the seats above the Green Monster after Tadahito Iguchi singled. Pierzynski added an RBI single, making it 8-1.
Snyder, who pitched seven shutout innings in a win Friday over Toronto, was tagged for five runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings.
It marks Dye's first-career 40-homer season. "It means a lot," he said. "A lot of things have been clicking this year."... It was Thome's ninth career four-hit game, matching his career-best. ... Pierzynski was 0-for-7 in the series before his third-inning RBI double.