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Strasburg sparkles, but Floyd's sharp, too
By Elliott Smith | For the Daily Herald

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Gavin Floyd throws against the Washington Nationals during the first inning Friday.


Associated Press

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws against the Chicago White Sox during the seventh inning Friday.


Associated Press

Chicago White Sox's Carlos Quentin, left, looks toward second base umpire Greg Gibson after being called out during the seventh inning Friday.


Associated Press

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Published: 6/18/2010 9:11 PM | Updated: 6/18/2010 10:56 PM

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White Sox game tracker

White Sox game tracker

White Sox 2, Nationals 1 (11 innings)

Omar's big hit: Omar Vizquel's first-inning double was the 2,675th hit of his 22-year career, allowing him to pass his idol, Luis Aparicio, and move into second place all time for hits by a shortstop.

Just make contact: Of the Sox' 4 hits off Strasburg, perhaps the most surprising was by Gavin Floyd, who notched just the third hit of his career with a sixth-inning single. He is 3-for-50 (.060). "You don't really think - you just want to get a hit," Floyd said.

Brown out: The White Sox have not hit a home run in six straight games, the longest such stretch since April 1993.

WASHINGTON - Stephen Strasburg lived up to the hype. Gavin Floyd matched him pitch for pitch.

While the buzz around Friday's game was focused solely on the third start of the Nationals' No. 1 pick and current Sports Illustrated cover boy, Floyd showed in his second straight outing why he was the No. 4 overall pick of the 2001 draft, as the pair of righties embarked on a classic pitcher's duel.

Both starters were long gone by the time Alex Rios singled home Mark Kotsay in the 11th inning of the White Sox' 2-1 victory over Washington, but it was their efforts that drew raves from both sides.

"I'm pretty impressed (with Strasburg)," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "You don't see kids - no matter what kind of stuff they have - with that kind of confidence on the mound. You don't find that everywhere. He was pretty good, but I think my pitcher was better than him."

Strasburg dominated White Sox batters during his 7-inning stint, allowing 3 singles and Omar Vizquel's broken-bat, RBI double while striking out 10 with a fastball that reached 99 mph on the stadium's radar gun.

"He's good. Honestly, his stuff reminds me of what (Mark) Prior had when he first came up," Paul Konerko said. "He throws a tick or two harder, and the changeup is what puts him over the top. It's kind of like a splitter, and that's a whole different ball of wax when you are throwing that to righties and lefties. He's the whole package."

The Sox got to Strasburg early, using an infield single by Juan Pierre and Vizquel's double to take a 1-0 lead two batters into the game before the Nats' ace settled into a groove that lasted for the remainder of his outing.

"It was like heavyweight fight out there," Pierre said. "Once he got into his arsenal, he was pretty much lights out."

Even though he was overshadowed by the Strasburg publicity train, Floyd - a Maryland native - stepped up with an 8-inning, 4-hit effort that was marred only by Adam Dunn's RBI double in the seventh that tied the game 1-1.

"I just tried to focus on what I could do," Floyd said. "I can't control or think about what he's doing. I just go out there and try to put up zeros."

Strasburg set a major-league record against the Sox for the most strikeouts (32) in the first three games of a career, eclipsing J.R. Richard's mark of 29 set in 1971.

"When you've got that kind of arm and you throw pitches for strikes, obviously you're going to be a top pitcher no matter what," Guillen said. "I think he's maybe the best pitcher in the NL. Much respect, because (Roy) Halladay is out there. I've never seen the kid from San Francisco (Tim Lincecum) throw, (Johan) Santana's out there, but this kid is legit."

Strasburg, being monitored closely by the Nationals in his rookie season, was pulled despite throwing just 85 pitches and rarely running into trouble.

"I definitely wanted to go out there, definitely finish the game out," Strasburg said. "But there's a bigger picture here."

For the Sox, the picture is getting a bit clearer. With 4 straight wins and 9 victories in their last 11, they have inched oh-so-close to the elusive .500 mark. Sweeping the Pirates is one thing, but hanging tough against the phenom Strasburg and pulling the game out is another.

"He's good. He's the real deal," Pierre said. "You've got to throw all techniques out the window, pitches to look for, none of that. You see something decent, you put a good swing on it. He's got a bright future. I don't know how they sent that guy to the minor leagues. If I got a team, he's on the roster from Day 1."