Ryan Dempster returned from his MLB-enforced hiatus – courtesy of a five-game suspension after hitting Alex Rodriguez with a pitch on Aug. 18 – to earn the win as the Red Sox beat the White Sox 4-3 Friday night in the first of their three-game series at Fenway Park.

Dempster kept the White Sox hitless until the fifth inning when Paul Konerko led off with a double. But after the first two batters of the game reached on walks on a total of 13 pitches it appeared Dempster may have been in for a shaky outing.

But one of the things he worked on during his time off was keeping the ball down and away to right-handed hitters.

“That’s vital for a guy like me who doesn't throw really hard” Dempster said. “I can’t have a lot of misses over the plate. So just worked on the side both in LA and more back home to just really try and repeat that as much as possible and make that consistent pitch for me.”

That work paid nearly immediate dividends. With runners on second and third and no outs Dempster threw a low and away 90-mph fastball as the first pitch to Alexi Ramirez who bit on the pitch and grounded into a double play. Dempster struck out Adam Dunn the next batter to get out of the inning on 20 pitches.

After the two walks Dempster retired the next 11 batters before Konerko’s double in the fifth. He went 6 1/3 innings giving up three runs on five hits and three walks with five strikeouts. He improved to 7-9 with a 4.75 ERA.