Sox hit homer stretch

The White Sox beat the Twins 8-1 Saturday night to lower their magic number to seven, but their biggest victory may have been over themselves.

The confidence was back in the clubhouse as the Sox took magic matters into their own hands with their first back-to-back victories since Sept. 6-7 and their biggest offensive outburst in a victory since Sept. 2.

"I finally got a little breath," manager Ozzie Guillen said.

The Sox have five games left—one against Minnesota and four at Detroit—before what could be the showdown series in Cleveland next weekend. If they win all five, their magic number would be down to two, minimum.

"It's in our hands," Guillen said.

The Indians finish a series Sunday in Kansas City, have a day off Monday, then play host to Tampa Bay three times before the Sox visit.

"I don't expect Cleveland to lose another game," Guillen said.

And if it comes down to the final three games?

"I'll take my chance against them," said Guillen, whose team lost two of three to the Indians last week.

But the story is different now, as 37,699 fans at U.S. Cellular Field—a record 18th sellout—would attest.

"We had a chance here and we did it," Guillen said.

The six runs in the third inning Saturday were more than the Sox had scored in the last three games combined and in more than in eight of their last nine games.

Included in that inning were home runs by Jermaine Dye, who won Friday's game with a homer, and Joe Crede, who won Tuesday's game with a homer. Dye is 5-for-13 with two homers and six RBIs in this series and Crede is 9-for-25 with four homers and seven RBIs on this homestand.

Dye has 30 home runs for the second time in his career, three short of what he had in Kansas City in 2000. He also has the most home runs as a right fielder than anyone in baseball.

"I'm just trying to help the team win," he said. "The focus now is to put stats aside and win ballgames."

The beneficiary of the booming-bat night was Freddy Garcia (13-8), who had won only one of his last nine starts since the beginning of August.

He even made it through the first inning without giving up a run, which is almost headline news in itself considering it is only the fourth time he has done that in 32 starts this season.

And talk about headlines: In the last two games, Sox starters (Jose Contreras and Garcia) have allowed only two runs in 17 innings.

Staked to the big lead, Garcia allowed four hits in eight innings, helped by three double plays in the first five innings.

"That's what we expect from Freddy," Guillen said.

"I felt pretty good and I made big pitches when I had to," Garcia said. "I was trying to make better pitches, not make as many mistakes [as the last few games]."

Former Sox killer Joe Mays, who has battled arm problems and was starting in place of injured Brad Radke, was pummeled for six runs in two-plus innings. All five batters he faced in the third inning had hits, including Dye's three-run liner over the right-field wall.

Scott Podsednik led off the inning with a double and got to third when Mays couldn't field Tadahito Iguchi's bunt. A.J. Pierzynski followed with a double, resulting in his first RBI against his former team in 52 at-bats. And Paul Konerko singled home a run in front of Dye.

Crede finished the third with his 21st homer off reliever Matt Guerrier.

"The pressure is a good pressure," said Iguchi, who went 4-for-4. "We have to win every game. This is something the team will use to make the final push."

Said Garcia: "We have to win every game now. If we play the way we have the last two games, we'll be in pretty good shape."

dvandyck@tribune.com

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