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Iguchi's near-cycle sparks White Sox
If this was the start of some White Sox players' farewell homestand, then Thursday night's 11-6 win over Baltimore gave a sellout crowd a memorable performance in an otherwise disappointing season.
A few hours after general manager Ken Williams intimated changes to the current roster could occur by the start of the second half, the Sox embarked on one of their most complete outings.
Right fielder Jermaine Dye and second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, two of the Sox's three potential free agents, fueled a five-run first inning that provided the type of early cushion the offense hasn't produced much of this season.
Iguchi came within a single of hitting for the cycle before he was walked in the eighth by reliever John Parrish, much to the disappointment of the fans that stuck around for his final at-bat.
"I told him, 'you hit a triple, just touch first base and miss second base,' " said Guillen, who was pleased with the excitement in the dugout during Iguchi's final at-bat.
Mercurial shortstop Juan Uribe displayed his all-around talent by making a spectacular defensive play and following it up with a two-run, opposite-field homer in the sixth.
The victory was the eighth in 11 games for the Sox (37-45), whose recent run still leaves them 12 1/2 games out of first in the American League Central.
It also leaves Williams with the likelihood of moving at least one of his free agents, with left-hander Mark Buehrle the primary target and Boston looming as a strong destination.
Buehrle, who has won 102 games with the Sox and currently has a 3.26 ERA, is scheduled to make his final start of the first half Saturday against Minnesota.
But the offense, which ranked last in four categories entering Thursday's game, showed its ability that has been missing for most of the season.
The 11 runs were a season-high.
"Lately, we've been swinging the bat good, ever since we left Tampa Bay (June 28)," Guillen said. "We've had better at-bats from everyone. We scored double digits, and that's going to help everyone."
The offense surged to a 10-2 lead after six innings, allowing manager Ozzie Guillen to pull starters Paul Konerko and Dye and give them extra rest in anticipation of Friday's day-night doubleheader against division rival Minnesota.
Before getting pulled in the seventh, Dye ripped a three-run homer to cap a five-run first inning. Dye, who missed nine games because of a right quadriceps pull, hit his 12th homer of the season and his first since June 12 at Philadelphia.
Iguchi snapped out of a 1-for-15 slump by collecting three hits and coming within a single of becoming the first White Sox player to hit for the cycle since Jose Valentin against Baltimore on April 27, 2000.
Iguchi hit an RBI double in the first, a homer in the second and a triple in the sixth. In his final at-bat, Iguchi worked the count to 3-1 before fouling off four consecutive pitches until Parrish's next pitch sailed high.
Every starting position player had at least one hit as Orioles starter Brian Burres was knocked out after 1 1/3 innings. The five-run first tied the Sox's season-high. It also equaled the most runs they have scored in a first inning since April 17, 2006 against Kansas City.
Rookie left-hander John Danks (5-6) was the beneficiary of the run support as he allowed two runs through six innings before fading in the seventh.
"He was in heavy counts, but he battled back," Guillen said. "Before the last inning, he was in the dugout too long. I wanted to give him another inning because I wanted to stay away from (Mike) MacDougal and (Bobby) Jenks."
Uribe supported Danks by making a backhanded, off-balance, one-hop throw to retire Kevin Millar in the third after Danks allowed three consecutive hits.