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Sox offense stays in gear
The White Sox produced a season-high 14 hits Monday night against the American League's top pitching staff despite missing two starters and losing hot-hitting Jermaine Dye to a fifth-inning ejection.
But the offense's biggest achievement might have been bailing out a bullpen that struggled again in an 8-5 victory over Oakland.
After Dye's ejection, the Sox scored five times in the sixth and seventh innings, enabling Jose Contreras (4-4) to earn the win and providing a much-needed cushion for the bullpen.
"I never doubted this offense," Contreras said. The Sox have scored 24 runs in their last three games.
Before getting tossed by plate umpire Chris Guccione for arguing a called third strike, Dye hit a double that fueled a three-run rally in the second. That was the only extra-base hit by the Sox, who displayed manager Ozzie Guillen's preferred style of manufacturing runs without relying on home runs.
"We had a couple guys out of the lineup and still responded," said Guillen, who fielded a lineup without third baseman Joe Crede (stiff back) and shortstop Juan Uribe (attending to ill mother).
The Sox nearly were forced to use their only remaining reserve position player—catcher Toby Hall—after A.J. Pierzynski was hit between his right thumb and index finger by a foul tip in the ninth. Pierzynski finished the game, and X-rays revealed no break.
The contributions came in all forms. Leadoff batter Darin Erstad and Paul Konerko each went 3-for-5, with Konerko raising his average to .214.
"I've felt better going back to the Yankees series [last week]," Konerko said. "I've had good at-bats, but I wasn't finishing them off with a hit."
Alex Cintron, starting for Uribe, contributed to two late rallies with singles. Luis Terrero, who replaced Dye, had his first two hits since May 1.
Pablo Ozuna had a sacrifice bunt and single during the Sox's final two rallies and made a leaping catch at third base to rob Jason Kendall of a hit in the third.
"Pablo is a guy who is going to kill himself for the team," Guillen said.
But the bullpen's late-inning follies continued to test Guillen's patience. The Sox made room on their 40-man roster by putting infielder Pedro Lopez on waivers, and he was claimed by Cincinnati. The Sox made a similar move last month to put Terrero on the roster, and they could do the same for Bret Prinz, who hasn't allowed a run in 10 appearances at Triple-A Charlotte.
Mike MacDougal loaded the bases on two walks and a hit in the eighth, and Nick Swisher delivered a two-run single off left-hander Boone Logan to bring the tying run to the plate.
"I just want everyone to do what they're supposed to and throw the ball over the plate," Guillen said. "I don't think that's too much to ask."
Even closer Bobby Jenks put the first two runners on base in the ninth before retiring the next three batters for his 14th save. Jenks didn't think he had to pitch more than one inning to bridge the gap between the starters and himself.
"It's just one of those things where it happened to us a couple times last year," Jenks said. "Instead of one guy having a bad outing, two or three are having it at the same time so it just looks like the bullpen isn't doing its job, which isn't the case. Our bullpen has been pretty solid all year long, except this weekend."