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At 11th hour, streak over
The White Sox's eight-game winning streak ended late Monday night in a taxing manner as Yuniesky Betancourt's single with two outs in the 11th inning scored pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist to give Seattle a 4-3 victory.
Betancourt's single came on an 0-2 count off Brandon McCarthy, the Sox's fourth pitcher.
"I just didn't want to strike out," the Seattle shortstop said. After swinging meekly at strike two in the 11th inning, Betancourt leaned at the outside pitch and flicked it into left field to win the game.
The Mariners' winning rally started on a single by former Sox designated hitter Carl Everett, who was replaced by Bloomquist. Bloomquist then stole second, the utility man's major league-best 17th consecutive steal.
Betancourt, through a translator, called Bloomquist, "the best baserunner in the league."
"Best in the league? Wow, that's nice," Bloomquist said.
After Adrian Beltre flied out, McCarthy intentionally walked Reed before Betancourt looped a drive to the right of shortstop Juan Uribe and into left field. Bloomquist scored easily.
Chicago intentionally walked Jeremy Reed in front of Betancourt even though Reed was 2-for-16 the past week. Betancourt was 7-for-18 during the same span but only a .256 hitter in his first major league season last year.
"We thought our shot with Betancourt was better," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
"I go with his gut feeling," McCarthy said. "In most situations, it works out."
Throughout this month, Hargrove has pinch-hit slugger Roberto Petagine for Betancourt late in games. But with Bloomquist having just replaced designated hitter Everett, if Petagine had batted again for Betancourt, Bloomquist would have played a potential 12th inning at shortstop. By rule, a pitcher would then have had to enter the batting order -- something Hargrove said he didn't want to do.
The Sox were one strike away from losing in the regulation nine innings before Brian Anderson hit a game-tying home run off closer Eddie Guardado to tie the game 3-3.
As the ball sailed away, Guardado yelled and threw his hands into his thighs.
It was his third straight poor outing. Guardado had previously allowed a game-winning homer at Boston on April 17 and then walked in the winning run last Thursday.
"Eddie is still our closer," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said, for the second time in five days.
"I don't know what to tell you, man," said Guardado, who saved 36 games in 41 chances last season but has allowed runs in five of seven appearances. "That one pitch is costing me. ... It's hurting everybody here."
Anderson's homer came a half-inning after Raul Ibanez capped a three-hit game by smacking a homer off Sox starter Jon Garland, who allowed a game-tying single to Ichiro Suzuki in the seventh. Ibanez is 18-for-46 lifetime (.391) against Garland.
Otherwise, Garland gave Guillen what the manager said he was seeking before the game -- a return to Garland's 2005 form of 18 wins and a 3.50 ERA. Garland allowed eight hits in eight innings, including Jose Lopez's third home run in the first.
Seattle starter Jamie Moyer was even better. The 43-year-old lefty allowed Jim Thome's RBI single after Pablo Ozuna led off the game with a double -- and only three subsequent hits in seven innings. Moyer struck out five and walked one.
He would have left up 2-1 but for more mistakes by Rene Rivera. Catching for the second straight day because Hargrove thinks Kenji Johjima has a sore left thumb, Rivera added to Sunday's costly miscues when he allowed a pitch to glance off his mitt in the second inning. His third passed ball in two games allowed Rob Mackowiak to score the go-ahead run.
Afterward, Hargrove said Johjima will play Tuesday.
Moyer remained winless in five starts -- his longest drought to start a season since 1991 -- despite a 3.45 ERA.
Seattle won for the first time in seven one-run games and denied Chicago its first nine-game winning streak since July 1977. The White Sox still share the major leagues' best record with Houston at 13-6.
The Mariners won for only the second time in seven games -- all at home.
"It's a great win," said Ibanez. "I don't know if it's so much a sigh of relief, but we came back and beat the world champions."
The win went to Julio Mateo (2-0), who pitched a scoreless 11th.
Before the game, most of the attention surrounded fellow Japanese players Tadahito Iguchi of the Sox and Johjima and Suzuki of Seattle.
"I think whereas before the Japanese people as players may not have heard of the White Sox or be as familiar with the White Sox, now there's an awareness that we're an open-minded organization in a great city and a good club to play for," Sox general manager Ken Williams said.
"I don't care if the guy we need is from the rain forest on a back field. If he can help us, then we're going to try to find him."
Nearly two dozen cameras followed the Japanese players. The significance wasn't lost on Iguchi, who followed Suzuki to play major-league baseball and was followed the next year by Johjima, his teammate for eight seasons with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League.
"The White Sox became more known when we won the World Series, and now they're playing more games on television," Iguchi said through interpreter Ryan McGuire.
"It depends on Japanese players like me playing for the Sox, getting more recognition and more games on television."
Iguchi, who entered Monday's game with a .344 batting average, is well aware that his progress is monitored closely as the second infielder to make the jump from Japan to the major leagues, following the New York Mets' Kaz Matsui.
"At the same time Johjima came here, and how well a Japanese catcher is going to fare in the major leagues is something people are talking about in Japan," Iguchi said.
Interest in the Sox rose dramatically last season when Iguchi batted .278 and was called the team's most valuable player by manager Ozzie Guillen. It reached a zenith in the off-season when Iguchi attended a wedding in Japan that was attended by several ex-teammates.
"It's something they're interested in," Iguchi said. "It's a world they know nothing of."
Iguchi said nearly all of his 40 ex-teammates and coaches asked about his season with the Sox.
The Sox's popularity in Japan started to climb when Shingo Takatsu, who returned to the Yakult Swallows this year, earned 19 saves in 2004 and was runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year Award.
They also made inroads in the spring of 2005 when they hired longtime international talent evaluator Ray Pointevint, the son-in-law of Japanese royalty, as a consultant.
Associated Press contributed to this report.