White Sox 11, Mariners 7

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CHICAGO (AP)—Trailing by five runs with their season slipping away, the Chicago White Sox did the usual during a long rain delay. They played cards and talked away the time.

“I think we knew pretty early we’d get back out there. When you hear you’re going to play, you stay focused and that’s what happened,” Paul Konerko said Saturday after the White Sox stormed back to beat the Seattle Mariners 11-7 and maintain their faint playoff hopes.

Konerko hit a go-ahead homer in a five-run eighth as Chicago won for just the second time in nine games.

The White Sox stayed seven games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central and 5 1/2 back of Minnesota for the wild card. The defending World Series champions have seven games left.

“You’d think we’d be good for a little push here at the end, but there have been so many games where we won in the middle of a tough spell and we thought that was the turning point—a game like today—and it didn’t happen,” Konerko said. “You still have hope. Just give it your best shot the last week and you need some help.”

Konerko hit the third pitch from reliever Joel Pineiro (8-13) for a two-run homer, his 33rd, to put the White Sox ahead 8-7 after Jim Thome drew a leadoff walk against George Sherrill.

The White Sox then loaded the bases on three walks before Juan Uribe had an RBI infield single and Ryan Sweeney hit a two-run single.

Rookie knuckleballer Charlie Haeger (1-1) relieved struggling Chicago starter Mark Buehrle and didn’t allow a hit for 3 1-3 innings in his first major league win.

Mariners starter Felix Hernandez went five innings, allowing three hits, including Thome’s 42nd homer. With the Mariners leading 7-2, he didn’t return after a rain delay of 1 hour, 57 minutes, in the top of the sixth that left the footing at U.S. Cellular Field unstable.

White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye departed after the seventh inning when he slipped in the batter’s box and fell down, hurting his left hamstring.

Seattle reliever Eric O’Flaherty got in trouble in the sixth after a two-out throwing error by shortstop Oswaldo Navarro—first baseman Richie Sexson slipped reaching for the throw—allowed Dye to reach second and led to four unearned runs.

“Guys were slipping everywhere,” O’Flaherty said.

Thome followed the error with an RBI double, and Konerko hit an RBI single to make it 7-4.

A.J. Pierzynski and Joe Crede hit back-to-back singles to load the bases, and Alex Cintron hit a two-run single—a blooper to short right that hit the glove of Mariners second baseman Jose Lopez, who bobbled it before it fell to the ground.

“I thought somebody was going to get hurt,” Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. “I think we are all concerned about the field conditions. The umpires made the decision that the field was playable and we played the game. … We can sit here and talk about the field conditions all we want, but the fact of the matter is that we didn’t pitch well from the sixth to the eighth.”

Uribe doubled in the seventh but was out easily at third trying to advance on Dye’s grounder to shortstop. And it turned into a double play when Dye stumbled coming out of the box and fell down.

“It was pretty bad,” Dye said about the field conditions. “But we needed to play to get this one in to give ourselves a fighting chance at the end.”

Dye will be re-evaluated on Sunday.

Sexson’s 32nd homer, his third in two games against Chicago, gave the Mariners a 4-2 lead in the third and was the 36th allowed this season by Buehrle, tying him for most in the major leagues.

The Mariners tacked on three more in the fifth as Adrian Beltre—who homered in the first—doubled and scored on Raul Ibanez’s two-out RBI single.

Ibanez moved to second on an error by Dye in right field. After an intentional walk to Sexson, Eduardo Perez and Mike Morse followed with RBI singles.

Buehrle gave up nine hits and seven runs in 4 2-3 innings. In the first he yielded a solo homer to Beltre, a double to Lopez, a walk and an RBI single to Perez as Seattle opened a quick 2-0 lead. Thome’s homer tied it in the bottom half.

Notes

Crede’s sixth-inning single snapped an 0-for-28 skid. … Beltre extended his hitting streak to 13 games. He did not return after the rain delay because of a tight hamstring.

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