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Sox rally late for wacky victory
Jose Contreras didn't get a victory Saturday night despite striking out a career-high 13.
But that was only one of several strange developments as the White Sox pulled out a zany 8-6 interleague victory at Cincinnati.
The Sox got key late-inning contributions. Juan Uribe cranked a game-tying home run in the eighth, and A.J. Pierzynski broke up a potential double play that forced Brandon Phillips' throwing error and led to three runs in the ninth.
And the Sox survived a harrowing bottom of the ninth as Bobby Jenks struck out Ken Griffey Jr. on a checked swing with the tying run at second for his 20th save in 21 chances.
"Knowing it was [Griffey], that made it a little bit better," said Jenks, whose streak of 12 scoreless outings ended.
Jenks would have been in deeper trouble had Pablo Ozuna not made a diving stop to retire Felipe Lopez with the bases loaded for the second out.
The Sox took a chance by pitching to Griffey with first base open. But Jenks quickly regained his control and fooled Griffey on an 85-m.p.h. curve on a 2-2 count.
"If he fell behind Griffey, we were going to walk him," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
That was the capper to an eventful night on which Contreras looked unhittable at times but found his 15-game winning streak in jeopardy.
"The five runs he allowed wasn't indicative of the way he pitched," Pierzynski said.
Contreras has struck out 24 in his last two starts, and six of his 13 strikeouts Saturday were called. He credited his recent strikeout success to the command of his split-finger fastball.
Contreras' 13 strikeouts were three shy of the franchise record set by Jack Harshman at Boston in 1954.
The 13 were the most by a Sox pitcher since Alex Fernandez did it against Boston on June 12, 1996. And Contreras became the first Sox pitcher to strike out 10 or more batters in consecutive starts since Fernandez accomplished the feat in June 1994.
Guillen didn't consider pinch-hitting for Contreras with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth with the score tied 3-3. The situation occurred after rookie Brian Anderson (.176) was walked intentionally with runners at first and second.
Contreras, who was hitless in 16 career at-bats with nine strikeouts and two walks, struck out.
Contreras got into trouble in the bottom of the sixth when he issued his first walk to Scott Hatteberg with two outs. Hatteberg and Brandon Phillips, who had singled earlier, moved up on a wild pitch.
Austin Kearns hit a looping drive to left, where Scott Podsednik broke late before the ball fell in front of him for a two-run single.
The Sox finally seized the lead after loading the bases in the ninth.
Joe Crede hit a grounder to shortstop. But Pierzynski broke up a double play by sliding hard into second, where Phillips heaved an errant throw past first that allowed two runs to score. Uribe followed with an RBI single.
"Joe isn't the fleetest of foot, and neither am I, but I got a bigger lead because the first baseman (Hatteberg) was playing in front of me," Pierzynski said.
The Sox (43-25) stayed 11/2 games behind Detroit in the American League Central by winning for the fifth time in six games. They can earn their first three-game series sweep since May 22-24 with a victory Sunday.
"It's been a good trip so far, but we'd like to finish it off," Pierzynski said.