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Different hero, another win for Sox
For the first time this season, the White Sox bailed out Mark Buehrle instead of leaning on him.
That made their 4-3 victory Thursday over Detroit much sweeter as they improved their American League-best record to 12-4 for the first time since 1935.
"Good teams find ways to score runs," said Scott Podsednik, whose two-run single in the seventh put the Sox ahead for good. "Early in the season we were getting by on some big home runs. Now we're manufacturing some runs here and there, but the story has been good pitching."
The Sox received a much-welcome contribution from Shingo Takatsu, who redeemed himself by pitching a perfect ninth inning to earn his fifth save after allowing runs in two games this week and losing his full-time closer duties.
"I could tell how [manager] Ozzie Guillen feels about me," Takatsu said through an interpreter. "He makes me feel that much more satisfied when I go out there and close a game. After I saw his face after we got the win, I could tell how happy he was for me."
The Sox left Comerica Park with a four-game winning streak, thanks to some timely hitting that has compensated for an inconsistent offense.
They rank last in the league with 25 walks but scored their first run in the first inning after consecutive walks to Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye.
The Sox also are 14th in the AL in batting average with runners in scoring position at .202, but Podsednik came through with a clutch hit that completed a comeback from a 3-1 deficit.
The clutch hitting, combined with consistent pitching and timely defense that features a league-leading 19 double plays, has allowed the Sox to post a 7-1 record in one-run games.
"We struggle as a group, but we get big hits," Guillen said. "We're not leaning on one guy. Every day it's somebody different."
Carl Everett, who had been in an 0-for-9 mini-slump after Monday's two-homer performance, rebounded with two hits, including a leadoff double in the sixth that helped close the Sox's deficit to 3-2.
But the most timely hit came from Podsednik, who pulled a 2-0 pitch into right field off left-handed reliever Jamie Walker in the seventh, scoring A.J. Pierzynski and Joe Crede, who extended his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games.
"You hear about the matchups, lefty vs. lefty and righty vs. righty, but they still have to throw the ball over the plate," said Podsednik, who is 6-for-10 against left-handers. "You try not to think about it."
The Sox improved to 10-3 in games against AL Central rivals as they open a three-game series at division doormat Kansas City.
They also aren't fazed by comments from division foes, such as Detroit's Dmitri Young, who declared that Cleveland and Detroit would battle for the AL Central title.
Buehrle (3-1) interpreted Young's statement as just being confident about his own team, but he offered one warning.
"If [the injured] Magglio [Ordonez] isn't in the lineup, they're going to have problems," Buehrle said. "It's a tougher division than people think it is."
Said Podsednik: "This team doesn't need added motivation or bulletin-board material to get up to play. We know what we have to do."