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Originally published August 13, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 16, 2007 at 9:09 PM

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M's Notebook | Closer Jenks' streak gives Sox fans a treat

In the midst of a downer of day for them, the White Sox and their fans had one moment to cheer Sunday in their 6-0 loss to the Mariners...

Seattle Times staff reporter

CHICAGO -- In the midst of a downer of day for them, the White Sox and their fans had one moment to cheer Sunday in their 6-0 loss to the Mariners.

That occurred when closer Bobby Jenks entered the game in the ninth inning and retired the side in order.

Those three outs extended Jenks' streak of consecutive batters retired to 41, giving him the American League record and tying the major-league record of San Francisco's Jim Barr, set in 1972.

Jenks had been tied with David Wells (1998) for the AL record. It was odd to see Jenks pitching with the Sox so far behind, but manager Ozzie Guillen said Jenks made the request so he could tie the record at home. The White Sox are leaving on a road trip.

"I had a surprise phone call, and [pitching coach Don Cooper] told me Bobby wanted to have an inning here," Guillen said. "I called him back and asked him if he was sure, because I don't think the intensity is going to be there. He told me, 'My intensity is going to be there no matter what.' "

Jenks, however, nearly lost his streak to the first batter he faced. Mariners rookie Adam Jones hit a bullet up the middle that Jenks knocked down. He threw out Jones at first.

"That was probably the hardest-hit ball all day," said Mariners manager John McLaren. "He's not known as a Gold Glove fielder, but somehow, some way, he was there for that."

Jermaine Dye made a sliding catch on Jamie Burke's blooper, and Yuniesky Betancourt grounded out to short for the record-tying out.

Ichiro's bests

Baseball America has conducted its annual "Tools" survey, and Ichiro dominates the poll of AL managers.

Ichiro was named the best hitter in the league (ahead of Derek Jeter and Magglio Ordonez), as well as best bunter, best base runner, most exciting player, best defensive outfielder and best outfield arm. He finished second to Carl Crawford as fastest base runner.

The only other Mariner to top a category was third baseman Adrian Beltre, named the best infield arm. Betancourt was third in that category, and also was third in the best defensive shortstop poll (behind Derek Jeter and Orlando Cabrera).

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J.J. Putz was second to Jonathan Papelbon as best reliever, and Beltre was second to Eric Chavez as best defensive third baseman. Felix Hernandez was ranked third in the best fastball category, behind Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya of Detroit.

Notes

• On another scorching day, Mariners starting pitcher Jeff Weaver suggested the team wear its batting practice jerseys for comfort. The request was enthusiastically supported by teammates, and they wore the lighter tops.

"I put on the gray uniform, and it felt kind of heavy today," Weaver said. "I asked if we could use BP jerseys. Everyone was for it. It's a lot lighter jersey and it doesn't collect as much sweat. It worked out well."

• The Mariners open up a six-game homestand tonight at Safeco Field against the Twins with a pitching matchup to savor: two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana against 21-year-old Felix Hernandez.

• White Sox manager Guillen hedged when asked before the game to pick the best team in the American League.

"I think Boston, because the pitching staff is good," he said. "I always believe in pitching. The American League is going to be tough. I can't really point my finger to one team I like best. I like Boston's pitching staff. I like Seattle's offense. I like Detroit's offense. I think the bullpen of Seattle is pretty good.

"In the end, it will be about pitching. Whoever pitches better is going to win it."

• Guillen said Sunday that Jose Contreras will return to the White Sox's rotation Friday to start against the Mariners at Safeco Field.

Contreras blanked the Mariners over the final five innings on Saturday out of the bullpen, and has not allowed a run in seven innings of relief since being pulled from the rotation.

• Tacoma OF Wladimir Balentien will be sidelined at least two weeks after dislocating the little finger on his left hand while attempting to make a diving catch in last Friday's game.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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