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Garland delivers; bullpen teeters
What started as a perfect Friday night had an imperfect ending. Getting only four baserunners in the first eight innings, the Seattle Mariners had five in the ninth alone as the White Sox went through four relievers before they held on for a 6-4 victory.
The wild last inning belied the mild first six innings, when Jon Garland was perfect and Juan Uribe had as many RBIs as Seattle had for the entire game.
In the end, Dustin Hermanson got the final two outs with the bases loaded in relief of Shingo Takatsu, even though he wasn't entirely warmed up.
"I was the one who said I was ready," said Hermanson, who saved his second game. "My body may not have been ready, but my heart and mind were."
It's a good thing because Takatsu had another shaky outing, allowing a two-run single to the first batter he faced and walking the second. The Sox stalled for time to allow Hermanson a hurry-up warmup, but manager Ozzie Guillen knew what he had to do.
While it worked out, it may have shaken Takatsu's confidence.
"I talked to him and [told him] not to lose his confidence, that I believed in him," Guillen said. "I hope he believes what I said. Right now he's still the closer for the White Sox."
The bullpen nearly lost it for Garland, who lowered his ERA from 4.50 to 3.46 thanks in large part to Uribe, who raised his batting average from .192 to .241 with two hits and four RBIs.
Garland, who is now 5-1 with a 2.66 ERA lifetime against Seattle, was perfect through six innings. No Mariner came close to a hit, and the only batter allowed three balls was Randy Winn in the second inning.
"If I said I didn't know [about the no-hitter], I'd be lying," Garland said. "I knew what was going on. I'm no idiot.
"In fact, [Mark] Buehrle and I said something about it on the bench."
Things changed for him in the seventh inning, by which time the Sox had a 5-0 lead. Garland lost his perfect game with one out when former White Sox Jeremy Reed walked. He lost his no-hitter one batter later when Adrian Beltre singled. Two batters later, he lost the shutout when Bret Boone poked a two-run single into right field.
When the eighth inning started, Garland was gone in favor of Luis Vizcaino, who pitched a perfect eighth but allowed two runs after he started the ninth inning with a pair of hits and a strikeout.
Then Damaso Marte hit his only batter, and Takatsu couldn't get anyone out. Hermanson came on to strike out Scott Spiezio and get Greg Dobbs to bounce out.
It would have been a different story if not for Uribe. He drove in the first run in the second inning with a sacrifice fly and the next two with his first homer in the fourth. After a Jermaine Dye home run, Uribe singled home another in the sixth.
For the White Sox, who remained tied with Minnesota for first place in the American League Central, it was their seventh straight victory over two seasons against the Mariners, not to mention their seventh straight victory at home against them.
At 7-3, it is also their best start since 1991, witnessed by 16,749 chilled fans at U.S. Cellular Field.
And talk about starts: Sox starters are 5-2 with a 3.10 ERA in 10 games, second best in the American League. Garland is now 2-0.
"I'm not really looking at the record," he said. "I just want to give the guys a chance to win the game."
It's just that the guys would rather have it easier than what Friday's ninth inning turned out to be.