Cubs 2, White Sox 1

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CHICAGO (AP)—Ryan Theriot saw the situation develop and tried to think like his manager.

He might have a future in the dugout, but for now, he’s solidifying his spot in the majors.

Theriot helped his cause with a suicide squeeze against Bobby Jenks in the ninth inning that drove in the go-ahead run and lifted the Chicago Cubs to a 2-1 victory over the struggling White Sox on Saturday.

“Lou’s put us in situations to succeed all year,” Theriot said, referring to manager Lou Piniella.

And Theriot came through in a big way.

He laid down a bunt between the mound and the plate as pinch-runner Angel Pagan broke toward home. Jenks (2-3) fielded the ball but had no play at home as the White Sox suffered their 21st loss in 26 games.

Michael Wuertz (1-2) got the last out of the eighth after walking a batter and picked up the win. Bob Howry pitched the ninth for his first save in four chances, with closer Ryan Dempster nursing a strained oblique.

Alfonso Soriano led off the game with a homer for the second straight day, and the White Sox tied it in the bottom of the first when Scott Podsednik scored on Jim Thome’s groundout.

The tie held until the ninth, when Cliff Floyd started the winning rally with a one-out single. Pagan ran for him and moved to third on pinch-hitter Daryle Ward’s single, before Theriot squeezed him in.

Theriot swung at the first pitch and fouled it off. Then, he got a fastball from Jenks and laid down the bunt.

“I knew (Piniella) would probably give me a chance to swing and see what happened,” said Theriot, a last-minute starter at third base for the ailing Mark DeRosa. “Once I swung at the first one that might have thrown him off a little bit.”

Asked if he expected the squeeze, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen responded sarcastically: “He’s overmanaging me, just in case you guys want to hear that. Lou overmanaged Ozzie today. That will be the highlight today. Please.”

Javier Vazquez allowed five hits and walked none in seven innings for the White Sox. He matched a season high with eight strikeouts before giving way to a bullpen that began the day with a major league-worst 5.96 ERA.

“I’m pretty much lost on words on what is going on,” Jenks said. “When things go bad they go bad.”

Rich Hill struck out six in 5 2-3 innings for the Cubs, giving up six hits and two walks. He left after walking A.J. Pierzynski and Tadahito Iguchi with two outs in the sixth. Carlos Marmol came in and retired Josh Fields on a forceout.

Neither team wasted time scoring after the start of the game was delayed 26 minutes by rain.

Soriano led off Friday’s game with a homer off Mark Buehrle, and he connected on a 1-0 pitch from Vazquez, sending it over the wall in center field for his 14th homer. It was his fifth leading off a game this season and the 37th of his career.

The White Sox tied it in the first when Podsednik—back from the disabled list—led off with a single, stole second and scored from third on Thome’s grounder to the right side. Fans gave Podsednik, out since April 15 with a right adductor strain, a loud ovation as he stepped to the plate. And just about everyone on the White Sox bench jumped up to greet him after he crossed home.

Both starters settled down after that.

For Hill, it was a big improvement over his previous outing, when he allowed five runs and three homers over three innings against San Diego. It was a big improvement over his previous appearance at U.S. Cellular Field, too.

The White Sox pounded Hill for seven runs in four innings on May 20, 2006, but that game is remembered for the hits that did not involve a bat and ball. Pierzynski smacked the plate after barreling over former Cubs catcher Michael Barrett during the second inning, and Barrett responded with a punch to the face that set off a bench-clearing brawl.

“This was a big confidence builder for myself,” Hill said.

Notes

The White Sox placed CF Darin Erstad back on the 15-day disabled list Saturday—one day after he was activated from the DL. Erstad re-injured his left ankle making a diving catch in the first inning Friday and did not bat in the bottom half. … White Sox RF Jermaine Dye, bothered by a sore quad, did not start Saturday and is likely headed to the DL. … DeRosa apparently had a reaction to medication he’s been taking for several ailments, including a bout of blurred vision earlier this week in Texas. “The last two, three days, I feel like I’m kind of just going through the motions on auto pilot, kind of in a fog,” DeRosa said. … Dempster injured himself on the first pitch he threw Friday and won’t be available for a few days, Piniella said.

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