BOSTON (AP) – Most of the Chicago White Sox weren’t too excited about giving up their Labor Day for a one-day road trip to Boston. For Brandon McCarthy, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.

“I don’t have the advantage of picking and choosing things like that,” the 22-year-old rookie said after pitching seven shutout innings to beat the Red Sox 5-3 Monday.

McCarthy got the spot start in a reluctantly scheduled makeup of an August rainout and extended his scoreless streak to 14 2-3 innings.

“To get to throw in Fenway is just fun throughout,” he said. “Me and a couple other guys here are a couple weeks removed from nine-hour bus rides or plane flights at six in the morning. So having a one-day road trip is not a bad deal.”

Chicago earned its fifth consecutive victory to remain 91/2 games ahead of second-place Cleveland and drop its magic number for clinching the AL Central to 17. Boston lost for just the third time in 24 home games, and its AL East lead was cut to three games ahead of the idle New York Yankees.

The Red Sox were cautiously encouraged by the performance of former ace Curt Schilling and former closer Keith Foulke, stars of last year’s World Series run who have struggled this season. Manager Terry Francona called both outings a “step in the right direction.”

Schilling (5-7) gave up four runs, nine hits, three walks and a hit batter in 6 1-3 innings, striking out four. Still, it was the first time in six starts this season that Schilling, who is recovering from ankle surgery, allowed fewer than five earned runs.

Foulke pitched 1 2-3 hitless innings in his second scoreless outing since missing 50 games for left knee surgery.

“I felt as strong when I came out of the game as I did when I went in,” said Schilling, whose 118 pitches matched a season high. “To go out against a kid that’s throwing the ball as well as Brandon threw the ball today, there’s no margin of error.”

McCarthy (2-1) allowed three hits and a walk, striking out seven and possibly forcing his way into the White Sox rotation. Up and down from Triple-A since making his major league debut on May 22, he has won both starts in his latest recall to lower his ERA from 8.14 to 5.08.

“He pitched two big games for us,” said Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen, who is planning to talk to general manager Kenny Williams about the rookie’s role. “It’s going to be a real interesting talk.”

The game was a makeup of an Aug. 14 rainout that was called when Chicago was leading 5-2 in the fourth inning. Neither team was thrilled about giving up a home day off on a holiday; the White Sox had to interrupt a 10-game homestand, and Boston will play on 30 consecutive days.

The White Sox left five pitchers behind for the one-game trip – the team’s first since 1990 – and catcher A.J. Pierzynski returned to Florida to be with his pregnant wife.

“I told my players, Don’t just come here and play the game just to fill out the schedule,” Guillen said. “It’s a big game for us.”

Paul Konerko homered and Juan Uribe had a single, a double and a homer for the White Sox. Boston got just one runner to third before the ninth, when Tony Graffanino hit a three-run homer with two outs off Bobby Jenks.

Schilling shut out Chicago for three innings before Konerko doubled and scored in the fourth. Uribe doubled to make it 2-0, took third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Tadahito Iguchi’s squeeze bunt.

Konerko homered to lead off the sixth and make it 4-0, and Uribe homered to open the ninth.

Notes: CF Johnny Damon was out of the Boston lineup with a sore left shoulder. … For the 24th time in 25 games, Chicago’s starter allowed two or fewer walks. … Boston picked off two runners. … The White Sox are 32-16 in day games, the best in the majors. … The attendance of 35,673 was the largest at Fenway Park since 1990 for a regular season game. … Red Sox fans donated $27,000 to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort on Monday, bringing the five-day total to more than $100,000. The team also promised a portion of the proceeds. … Manny Ramirez had his major league-leading 14th outfield assist in the ninth. … Schilling lost to the White Sox for the first time in his career.

AP-ES-09-05-05 1655EDT

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