CHICAGO (AP)—Pablo Ozuna’s two at-bats Wednesday night were two of the best of his career. One featured rare power and the other his customary speed. And they both helped the Chicago White Sox to another victory.
Ozuna hit his first major league homer to tie the game with two outs in the ninth. Then after hustling out a two-out double in the 11th, he scored the game-winning run on Juan Uribe’s single as the White Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 6-5.
“Yes, they were my best moments individually in baseball,” said Ozuna, a key reserve for the White Sox’s World Series champion last season.
Ozuna hit a ball through the middle in the 11th off Jake Woods (1-1) and then kept running, making second for a double. Uribe then dumped a single into shallow center and Ozuna scored easily as the White Sox won for the 18th time in the last 22 games.
“As soon as I hit the ball, I realized that the center fielder and second baseman were kind of lackadaisical, so I decided to take a chance,” Ozuna said through a translator.
The 31-year-old Ozuna’s first homer in 334 major league at-bats came as a pinch-hitter and sailed over the left field fence against Mariners’ closer Eddie Guardado in the ninth, tying the game at 5-5. It spoiled a four-run rally by the Mariners in the eighth that had given them a 5-4 lead. Guardado now has three blown saves in seven chances.
“I’m puzzled,” Guardado said. “I’m not going to go out there and strike the world out or anything, but I do get ground balls and I do get fly balls. These fly balls are just going over the fence. And at the time, I don’t need them to go over the fence.”
Ozuna, who was 9-for-19 this season entering the game, got the call as a pinch-hitter for Rob Mackowiak against the lefty Guardado.
“I was ready to go since the fourth inning. They had a lot of lefties coming in from the bullpen and I knew if I got a chance to get into the game I would try to make something happen and hit the ball hard somewhere,” Ozuna said.
“I wanted to take a chance that he would get a base hit and hopefully steal a base,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I didn’t think he’d hit a home run.”
Bobby Jenks (1-0) got the win after getting out of a tight jam in the 11th. The Mariners had first and third after a single, forceout and error on Paul Konerko, but Joe Crede made a nice play and strong throw on speedy Willie Bloomquist’s slow grounder to end the inning.
Crede’s grand slam in the seventh off reliever Rafael Soriano put Chicago up 4-1, but Jose Lopez hit a two-run single to tie the game in the eighth and scored on second baseman Tadahito Iguhci’s wild relay throw that gave Seattle a 5-4 lead.
But Guardado couldn’t close it out. It was the second time this season the Mariners’ lefty had surrendered a game-tying homer to the White Sox in the ninth. He’d served up one to Chicago rookie Brian Anderson in Seattle on April 24.
With the Mariners trailing by three, Jeremy Reed led off the eighth with a double to snap an 0-for-21 skid and scored on an RBI single by Kenji Johjima that finished starter Freddy Garcia. Bloomquist singled off reliever Matt Thornton and after the runners moved up to second and third on Ichiro Suzuki’s slow grounder, Lopez tied the game with a two-run single to right off Cliff Politte.
After an intentional walk to Raul Ibanez, Richie Sexson hit a grounder to third baseman Crede, who threw to second for the force, but Iguchi’s relay to first trying to get the double play was wild and high. Sexson came up limping on the play but remained in the game.
Mariners starter Gil Meche shut the White Sox out allowing two hits in six innings but got into trouble in the seventh. Jim Thome walked to start the seventh and after Konerko doubled into the left field corner, the Mariners intentionally walked A.J. Pierzynski before calling on Soriano.
Garcia allowed five hits and three runs in seven plus innings against his former team.
He hit Lopez with a pitch leading off the fourth and after Ibanez singled, both runners moved up on Sexson’s dribbler in front of the plate. Carl Everett, who had 23 homers and 87 RBIs for Chicago last season, then hit a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.
Chicago RF Jermaine Dye, bothered by a sore calf muscle that forced him out in the third inning Tuesday, did not play. Ross Gload, with just six at-bats all season, got the start. … Reed did not start but entered the game as defensive replacement in the seventh.