The White Sox had their championship thing going Friday. You know the look: Near perfection.
Jim Thome and Paul Konerko returned to the lineup and reached base nine out of 10 times, Jon Garland won his eighth straight, A.J. Pierzynski provided the big pop and they overcame a three-run deficit against perhaps the best pitcher in baseball.
In other words, Friday's 6-4 victory over Toronto was about as good as it gets for the Sox, even though they failed to gain ground in either the Central Division or the race for the wild-card playoff spot.
Even manager Ozzie Guillen rated this one as "something special," given it came over Roy Halladay (13-3), who lost for only the second time since April 9.
But Garland (12-3) was better, running his record to 5-0 in the Rogers Centre before a crowd of 30,060. Garland hasn't lost since June 8 and is about as close to a sure thing as the Sox have right now.
"This is one of those games we can build off," said Garland, who credited the defense for three double plays from the second through sixth innings.
But it was one of those games the Sox wouldn't have won without Thome (four games) and Konerko (one game) coming back from nagging injuries. Thome finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored while Konerko went 3-for-3 with two walks and a run.
"Those two guys move the rest of the guys down [in the lineup] and make the offense stronger," Guillen said. "When those two guys are in the lineup, the bench is better. They make the ballclub a lot better."
Though the night had a happy ending, the beginning wasn't so good.
Garland, who had not given up a home run in his last nine outings, gave one up in the first inning Friday. And it was a monster, a 413-footer by cleanup hitter Troy Glaus with Reed Johnson and Eric Hinske on board.
The Sox started banging away at the Toronto lead with single runs in the third and fourth innings. Thome drove home the first run with his first double, scoring Scott Podsednik, who had singled and stolen second. Podsednik drove in the second run with a double, scoring Pierzynski, who had singled.
Then Pierzynski put the Sox on top in the fifth with a long three-run homer to left field, his ninth of the season. Scoring in front of him were Thome (double) and Konerko (single).
"For me to get a hit off Halladay, period, ranks up there," said Pierzynski, who came into the game 1-for-9 against the Blue Jays ace.
Halladay pitched into the seventh inning, allowing a season-high three walks and a season-tying five hits.
Garland made it through six innings before his pitch count (114) caught up to him. Brandon McCarthy pitched two scoreless innings and Bobby Jenks struck out the side in the ninth for his 30th save, but not before giving up a homer to Glaus. It was the third straight game Jenks has allowed at least one run.
"We earned that win," Guillen said. "We battled back and got great at-bats against one of the best."
Now Garland has become one of the best.
"Confidence," Pierzynski said of the difference between this Garland and the one who won only two of his first seven starts. "Early in the year he was worried about his velocity. He has gone back to changing speeds. When he pitches, you feel like you can win."
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