Sox reign again over Mariners

A few hundred fans who didn't heed their mothers' advice were still on hand in the top of the ninth inning of Wednesday night's White Sox-Seattle game at Comiskey Park.

They refused to come in out of the rain, preferring to sit and soak in a constant drizzle, singing and chanting as the Sox and Mariners slogged through a wet and wooly affair.

But with the Sox taking the field in the ninth with a 9-2 lead, the drizzle quickly turned into a downpour, leading to the fourth rain delay of the evening and sending most of the die-hards to the exits.

"I'm sure they weren't feeling it," shortstop Royce Clayton said. "Looked like they'd had a few cold ones."

Had the umpires used a little common sense, and if the Sox offense hadn't been so greedy by piling it on with a five-run eighth, the remnants of the crowd of 12,735 could have seen the final three outs. But nine minutes after midnight, the game was finally called after eight innings.

"It was a tough night for both teams, to stop and start," manager Jerry Manuel said. "[Groundskeeper] Roger Bossard did a tremendous job of keeping the field in playing shape."

In the end, the fans saw what they wanted to see.

Jon Garland (4-1) threw five shutout innings, and Clayton and Carlos Lee homered as the Sox handed the Mariners their fifth loss in six games. The Sox improved to 17-10, including 10-2 at home, their best start at home since going 11-1 in old Comiskey in 1972, the year of Dick Allen's arrival.

The Sox remained a half game ahead of Minnesota in the AL Central, while Cleveland dropped four games back.

The start of the game was delayed 1 hour 22 minutes, and there were two brief stoppages of play early on. The final four innings were played in a steady rain, leading to the ninth-inning delay.

"Horrible," Jose Valentin said. "And later in the game, it started getting worse and worse."

"But anytime you get a lead against that team, you want to get through it," Clayton said.

Clayton's solo homer off Ryan Franklin opened the Sox's scoring in the third, and they added a pair of runs in the fourth on Valentin's RBI and a sacrifice fly by Sandy Alomar Jr.

Garland was removed with a 3-0 lead after the fifth inning. He allowed only three hits. Seattle broke through in the top of the seventh against Antonio Osuna, thanks to a fielding misplay by Paul Konerko.

With runners on first and second and one out, Konerko gloved a Carlos Guillen grounder and threw to second for the force, only to watch the ball sail into left field for an error. Ruben Sierra scored from second on the play, and after Bob Howry replaced Osuna, Desi Relaford's pinch-hit sacrifice fly closed the gap to 3-2.

Ray Durham's two-strike, two-out RBI single in the seventh made it 4-2, and the Sox poured it on in the eighth before the final downpour hit.