White Sox 5, Devil Rays 4

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CHICAGO (AP)—Tadahito Iguchi’s slump-busting homer gave the White Sox another late-inning boost.

Throw in a big hit from Jim Thome, who’d missed the previous five games with a strained hamstring, and Chicago rallied for another victory to extend its wild-card lead.

Iguchi’s two-out, two-run homer in the eighth tied it. Moments later, Thome hit a go-ahead single to give the White Sox a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Wednesday night. Chicago increased its AL wild-card lead over Minnesota to 1 1/2 games.

“Today was definitely a good time to get a hit like that,” said Iguchi, in a 2-for-23 slump before his homer. “Recently, I just haven’t been hitting that well, and it was good I was able to do this to make up for that.”

Thome aggravated the hamstring injury coming out of the batter’s box and will sit out Thursday’s series finale. He left for a pinch-runner right after his go-ahead hit.

“This one, I felt it and instantly shut it down,” Thome said. “I called for Ozzie (Guillen) to put in a runner because I didn’t want to do anything worse.”

Jon Garland (16-4) got his 16th win to tie for the major league lead, surviving a rough start when he gave up three first-inning runs, including a leadoff homer to Rocco Baldelli.

The White Sox’s comeback from a 4-0 deficit was aided by three Tampa Bay errors as the Devil Rays lost their sixth straight overall and 12th in a row on the road.

Baldelli had an error and also missed a diving attempt at Thome’s liner that put the White Sox ahead.

“Every ball that got hit out there tonight was playing tricks on me,” Baldelli said. “I can’t explain it. I have absolutely no idea. It seems like we just find incredible ways to not get it done right now.”

Juan Uribe opened the eighth with double off Brian Meadows (2-5) and two outs later, Iguchi hit a 3-2 pitch into the seats in left-center. Jermaine Dye singled, stole second and scored when Thome hit a liner to right-center that eluded Baldelli.

Garland gave up nine hits and four runs in eight innings and is 12-1 in his last 14 starts. Bobby Jenks pitched the ninth for his 38th save.

After Ben Zobrist singled in the ninth, he was called out on a game-ending double play after Dye caught Baldelli’s liner to right-center and threw back to first where Zobrist beat the throw. But Paul Konerko then relayed the ball to second where second-base umpire Joe West called Zobrist out on the appeal for not re-tagging after rounding second.

“I scraped it with my foot,” Zobrist said. “It wasn’t deliberate enough. It has to be deliberate. The umpire, from his line of vision, it probably it looked like I didn’t scrape it, that I jumped right over it. I have to make it more deliberate.”

Devil Rays starter Tim Corcoran allowed six hits and a run in 5 1-3 innings, but is still winless since July 9.

Baldelli sent Garland’s second pitch over the wall in left-center for his seventh homer. B.J. Upton followed with a single, Carl Crawford was hit by a pitch and Greg Norton delivered an RBI single to give the Devil Rays a 2-0 lead before Garland could record an out. He retired the next two batters, but Delmon Young came through with another run-scoring single to give Corcoran a 3-0 cushion.

Jorge Cantu tripled in the fourth and scored on Young’s sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.

Konerko’s double, Joe Crede’s single and a sacrifice fly by Uribe cut the led to 4-1 in the fourth.

With Thome’s return, the White Sox shuffled their batting order. Dye stayed in the third spot Thome had occupied most of the season, Thome batted fourth and Konerko dropped from cleanup to fifth.

Dye singled, stole second and scored in the seventh when Cantu let A.J. Pierzynski’s routine grounder go through his legs for the Devil Rays’ third error of the night.

Notes

Paul made his first game appearance at U.S. Cellular Field since being involved in one of the most talked-about plays in the White Sox’s history last October while he was with the Angels. In the AL championship series, Paul rolled the ball back to the mound after Pierzynski apparently struck out to end the ninth inning of Game 2. But Pierzynski then ran to first and reached on what was ruled a dropped third strike, setting up the winning run that knotted the series. On Wednesday night, Paul had one go in his favor when Scott Podsednik had two strikes and hit a foul tip in the eighth. Plate umpire Tony Randazzo initially ruled it no catch by Paul, but signaled Podsednik out after conferring with his fellow umps.

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