Betancourt hits grand slam to help Mariners hold off White Sox 7-6

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CHICAGO (AP)—There was no need for J.J. Putz to panic after giving up a grand slam in the ninth.

Yuniesky Betancourt hit his first career grand slam for Seattle, Raul Ibanez added a three-run homer and the Mariners held on to beat the Chicago White Sox 7-6 Saturday night.

Josh Fields hit his first career grand slam in the ninth on the first pitch from Putz, but the Seattle closer retired the next three hitters for his 34th save in 36 chances.

The Mariners have won 10 of 14 after losing a season-high seven straight. They remained one percentage point ahead of the New York Yankees for the AL wild-card lead.

Putz said he wanted to be aggressive with a five-run lead.

“The worst thing that could happen was us still having a one-run lead. You know, barring another home run, they’d have to put some hits together,” Putz said. “He just put a good swing on a good pitch. There’s nothing you can do about that. All you can do is go out and execute the pitch. If you make the pitch and they beat you, you just got to tip your hat.”

Fields said he was guessing a first-pitch fastball.

“If he threw any other pitch I probably would’ve been out of luck. I knew he would probably try to come in with the bases loaded and get ahead,” Fields said.

Mariners starter Miguel Batista (12-8) took advantage of early runs and hung around long enough to earn the victory. He pitched 5 2-3 innings, allowing two runs and six hits. He struck out six and walked four.

“It’s all about your offense giving you enough room for cushion,” Batista said. “You can make an error here or there, and it won’t hurt that much.”

With one out in the first inning, White Sox starter Gavin Floyd walked Jose Vidro. Jose Guillen followed with a single and Ibanez put the Mariners up 3-0 with a home run to left. It was Ibanez’s fifth homer in five days and his 11th of the season. Before his recent surge, Ibanez went 116 at-bats without a homer.

Floyd (1-2) ran into more trouble in the fourth. With one out, he gave up a single to Richie Sexson and then hit Kenji Johjima with a pitch. Jose Lopez singled to load the bases and Betancourt drove the next pitch over the left-center fence. His eighth homer of the season gave the Mariners a 7-1 lead.

Floyd was tagged for seven runs and seven hits in four innings. He had two strikeouts and one walk. Floyd’s ERA is 8.51 in four starts and two relief appearances this season.

Chicago’s Jerry Owens drove in Scott Podsednik from second with a single in the third.

In the fifth, Batista gave up an RBI single to Fields, but was able to escape further damage by getting Darin Erstad swinging with the bases loaded to end the inning.

“I didn’t think Batista was sharp at all,” Mariners manager John McLaren said. “He wasn’t in sync.”

Jose Contreras pitched five scoreless innings in relief for Chicago.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen will make a decision soon on whether Contreras will replace Floyd in the starting rotation.

“We are going to meet with (general manager Ken Williams) and (pitching coach Don Cooper) and figure out what to do with those two guys,” Guillen said. “One of the reasons we put Jose in the bullpen was to refresh his mind and his body, and he’s been throwing well.”

Notes

Ibanez has 13 home runs in his career against the White Sox. … Betancourt has raised his average from .274 on July 24 to .293. … Fields has three homers in his last two games.

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