CHICAGO (AP)—The game ball and lineup card stayed with Clayton Richard, and the memory will, too.
“One thing I like is this kid is not afraid to throw the ball,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “He’s going to be around the plate. He should feel proud of himself. That ballclub out there, they can put a lot of numbers in a hurry and he did a tremendous job tonight to shut it down.”
Ken Griffey Jr. hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly against his former team, and A.J. Pierzynski had three hits as the White Sox won for the seventh time in eight games and maintained a one-game lead over second-place Minnesota in the AL Central.
Richard (1-2), making his fourth major league start, allowed five hits, struck out two and walked one in his first appearance since he was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte on Friday. Picked for the U.S. Olympic team, the 24-year-old left-hander reported to Chicago instead of Beijing when the White Sox purchased his contract from Charlotte on July 21.
Instead of going for the gold, he’s in a pennant race.
“It’s what you grow up as a kid and wish for,” Richard said. “It’s definitely exciting to be a part of.”
He was 0-2 with a 10.38 ERA in three starts in his first callup, but he’s looking like a different pitcher this time. He threw a scoreless inning of relief at Oakland on Sunday after being recalled two days earlier and dominated the miserable Mariners.
“We were hitting the ball good, but he was making pitches, too,” Miguel Cairo said. “He pitched good.”
Richard escaped trouble in the first after his throwing error allowed Ichiro Suzuki to reach second. Cairo followed with a single, but Nick Swisher fielded Raul Ibanez’s grounder to first, stepped on the bag and threw home for a double play.
Richard maintained his poise after leadoff doubles by Adrian Beltre in the fourth and Ibanez in the sixth.
“I was really excited for him to throw the ball the way he did today,” Guillen said.
No one was more excited than Richard’s father, Barry, who gave his son a big hug in the clubhouse afterward.
“It’s just so awesome that he was able to accomplish this, and that the Sox had the faith in him and belief in him to give him the opportunity,” said Barry Richard, who made the 2-hour trip from Lafayette, Ind.
Felix Hernandez (7-8) lasted just five innings for Seattle. The Mariners have lost five straight and 10 of 12, dropping to an AL-worst 46-79.
Hernandez dropped to 0-2 in his last six starts, giving up five runs, 11 hits and three walks in five innings. He failed to strike out a batter for the first time in 24 starts this season. The only other time he did not have a strikeout was when he left after just one-third of an inning with tightness in his right elbow against Minnesota on April 18, 2007.
“That’s a tough lineup,” Hernandez said. “Those guys hit homers. If you make a mistake, you’re going to pay.”
Griffey’s sacrifice fly in the second was just his fourth RBI since the White Sox acquired him from Cincinnati on July 31. Chicago made it 3-0 in the third on back-to-back doubles by Pierzynski and Carlos Quentin and a run-scoring single by Alexei Ramirez.
Swisher homered leading off the fourth, connecting for the second straight game, and Thome homered starting the fifth. Chicago has 10 homers in three games and leads the major leagues with 184.
“All cylinders are clicking right now,” Swisher said. “We’re getting it from batters one through nine. We’re getting it on the hill. … It’s just a lot of fun right now.”
White Sox 3B Joe Crede, who has been on the DL with a back injury since July 25, was to resume his rehab stint with Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday. The All-Star appeared in one game for Charlotte, on Aug. 1, before his back flared up again. … The White Sox lead the season series 4-1 after losing seven of eight to Seattle last year. … Ibanez went 2-for-4, making him 17-for-30 through seven games on this trip.