CHICAGO - Toronto's Dustin McGowan is gradually rounding back into shape after two shoulder surgeries.
In what turned out to be manager Ozzie Guillen's last game with the White Sox, Tyler Flowers hit a three-run homer, rookie Dylan Axelrod threw six shutout innings and Chicago beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 on Monday night.
McGowan (0-2) allowed four hits and three runs in four innings, leaving after throwing 73 pitches. McGowan has been limited to a strict pitch count since the surgeries.
"I think the one thing we've seen since he's come back to start is he gets stronger as his outing goes along," Toronto bench coach Don Wakamatsu said. "I think today was a similar case where he felt around with his mechanics a little early. It's the first time he's pitched in cold weather in three years."
McGowan was making his fifth appearance and fourth start in his first major league outings since 2008.
"He's been down in Florida rehabbing his arm in warm weather this whole time," Wakamatsu said. "It was a little tough for him to feel his release point, but he said he felt real good in the third and the fourth. We wanted to get him out on a positive note."
Adam Lind drove in Toronto's only run with on a groundout in the eighth, Mike McCoy stole two bases and Mark Teahen reached base three times in his first game against his former club.
Sergio Santos got the last three outs to become the eighth White Sox pitcher to record 30 saves, picking up his first since Sept. 6. He allowed a two-run double to David Cooper in the ninth and walked Eric Thames and Jose Bautista, but struck out Lind with the bases loaded to end the game on his 44th pitch of the inning.
"We came back and battled off Santos at the end, but Axelrod early just kept us off-balance and didn't give us anything," Wakamatsu said.
"What a huge hit by Cooper coming off the bench. (Santos) is a tough closer. To come up and hit a double and get us within a run. It was a disappointing loss but a good comeback at the end."
Wakamatsu replaced Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who missed the game while attending to a family matter. He is expected to manage on Tuesday.
Guillen met with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf on Monday. Before the game, Guillen said that he had repeated his request for a contract extension and expected Reinsdorf to take a couple of days to make a decision about his future. After the game, the club announced that Guillen had been released from his contract per his request.
"I know they're not going to forget me," Guillen said. "They can't. They walk through the ballpark and my picture is there. I hope they don't take it down."
Lost amid the frenzy surrounding Guillen's surprising departure was Axelrod (1-0), who got his first win, striking out six and holding Toronto to three hits. By the time the media was allowed into the White Sox clubhouse, Axelrod had already left.
Flowers made a rare start at first base and hit his fourth homer with two on in the second. Dayan Viciedo roped an RBI double in the seventh and A.J. Pierzynski added two singles for Chicago.
"Bullpen did a nice job other than the one run, but even that one (run in the seventh), the groundball to second base, we might have been out of that inning," Wakamatsu said.
The White Sox won for just the seventh time in their last 28 games against the Blue Jays. Toronto needs to win the last two games of the series to finish the season with a winning record for the fifth time in six years.
Axelrod pitched out of a jam in the fifth, getting McCoy on a foul popup and striking out Thames with runners on second and third.
NOTES: In the last series of the season, the Blue Jays are making their only trip to Chicago in the 2011 season. Chicago and Toronto haven't played each other since May 29 and hadn't met in Chicago since May 9, 2010. ... Colby Rasmus (flu-like symptoms) and Lind (birth of his child) both returned the Toronto lineup. ... Bautista, who went 0 for 3 with three walks, left Sunday's game early after hurting his knee chasing a fly ball. Bautista's 43 homers leads the Yankees' Curtis Granderson by two in his bid to become the first player to lead the majors in homers in consecutive seasons since Mark McGwire in 1998 and 1999. ... The Blue Jays will send Henderson Alvarez to the mound on Tuesday to face Chicago's Mark Buehrle, who could be making his last start for the White Sox. Buehrle will be a free agent after the season.