Somber streak

SportsChicago White SoxDamaso MarteOzzie GuillenDustin HermansonMark BuehrleFrank Catalanotto

The White Sox showed no glee Sunday, even after posting their second eight-game winning streak.

They were concerned after Toronto catcher Gregg Zaun was carted off the field on a stretcher after suffering a head injury in the ninth inning that caused the game to be stopped for 13 minutes.

And tension stemming from blowing nearly all of a 5-0 lead and committing two errors was finally lifted when Damaso Marte retired Reed Johnson on a fly to cap a harrowing 5-4 victory at the Rogers Centre.

The postgame music in the clubhouse was barely audible after the Sox (24-7) equaled their best 31-game start since 1919.

"I think this team is smart enough to know any win today isn't going to help us win any games tomorrow," first baseman Paul Konerko said. "We also know a lot of these games a break here or there could have gone the other way, so that keeps you working.

"And when you play those tight games, you realize it comes to one or two things that wins or loses game for you. It keeps your nose to the ground and you keep working. It's not like you're blowing out teams every day. That seems easy. These wins aren't easy. Every one seems like we're grinding them out."

The Sox improved to 13-3 in one-run games, primarily because they were able to overcome two errors by shortstop Juan Uribe during the Blue Jays' four-run fourth. Mark Buehrle and relievers Dustin Hermanson and Damaso Marte kept them scoreless the rest of the way as the Sox's offense managed only one hit over the final five innings.

The Sox swept the Jays in the three-game series but were hardly dominating. Manager Ozzie Guillen carefully answered a question about how good his team is.

"I don't want to say it's good, but they're playing good baseball," Guillen said. "They stick up for each other and carry each other. They have good pitching and play the way you're supposed to play, [so] you get good results.

"Tying a record doesn't mean anything. It's nice to be part of it, but I don't look at that. I look forward to the next game."

Six of the Sox's last eight wins have been decided by two runs or fewer. Guillen believed Sunday's biggest play came in the fourth inning when A.J. Pierzynski advanced from first to second base on Joe Crede's sacrifice fly.

Pierzynski scored on a two-out single by Pedro Lopez for what turned out to be the winning run.

"They look at the home runs and hits, but A.J. doing the job wins the game for us," Guillen said.

Uribe's two errors snapped the Sox's streak of eight consecutive errorless games. But Buehrle (5-1) extended his streak of pitching at least six innings for the 35th consecutive start with 71/3 innings.

"I like flying under the radar and doing my job," said Buehrle, who needs four more starts to top Curt Schilling's mark of pitching at least six innings for Arizona in 2001-03.

But Guillen made a successful pitching decision with two outs in the ninth by allowing Marte to face pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson and leadoff man Reed Johnson instead of opting for Shingo Takatsu.

Hudson hit a double that moved the tying and winning runs into scoring position, but Johnson flied out with Frank Catalanotto and Eric Hinske, the Jays' two biggest threats, available to pinch-hit off the bench.

"I'll take my chances with Marte," Guillen said.

mgonzales@tribune.com

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