White Sox sweep Mariners with 9-5 win
Chicago gets home runs from Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin and two home runs from Ramon Castro in the victory.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Mariners @ Minnesota Twins, 5:10 p.m., FSN
CHICAGO — Setting any type of offensive record that doesn't involve futility would ordinarily be a positive step for the Mariners.
But even the sight of Ichiro hitting his third double of the game in the seventh inning — equaling a franchise mark — wasn't enough to overcome another Chicago White Sox power onslaught. Four more home runs for Chicago on Thursday night sent the Mariners to a 9-5 loss and their first sweep in a four-game series in a season of new nightly lows.
Seattle, 6-20 this month, has already suffered its most July losses in franchise history. Two defeats the next two days would equal the team's worst-ever record in any month, set in August of its expansion 1977 season.
"As the series went on and we started giving up home runs, we started pitching more protectively, I think," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "There were 15 of 39 first-pitch strikes, and whether it's our ballpark or this ballpark, the same formula works. You have to get ahead of hitters. When you fall behind, especially against a club that's as hot as this one with their power potential, you're running into trouble."
That's precisely why Wakamatsu pulled starter David Pauley just two outs into the third inning. Pauley had entered the frame with a 2-0 lead, but started falling behind hitters and was on the short end of a 4-2 score just two outs later.
Ramon Castro would add to that Chicago advantage with a pair of home runs off reliever Chris Seddon in the fourth and sixth innings. Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin added two more homers off left-hander Garrett Olson in the seventh, much to the delight of 28,483 fans at U.S. Cellular Field.
Ichiro had ignited the Mariners early on for a second straight game, leading off the first and third with doubles and scoring both times on a double and sacrifice fly by Casey Kotchman.
Seattle had a chance to get back in the game, scoring once off former Mariners starter Freddy Garcia in the sixth and getting runners to second and third with one out. But Justin Smoak popped out and Josh Wilson went down swinging.
Then, in the seventh, with the Mariners down 7-3, Ichiro keyed a two-run rally and ended a franchise-record, 27-inning scoreless streak by former Seattle closer J.J. Putz with his third double of the game. But with a runner on second and two out, Putz caught Kotchman looking at a third strike and got Franklin Gutierrez to fly out.
Chicago continued its home-run barrage off Olson, who kept falling behind hitters in the bottom of the frame.
"I think, honestly, they're just doing a good job of hitting mistakes," Olson said. "And maybe hitting some great pitches, too."
Seddon kept falling behind as well. He said he knew how important it was to stay aggressive and not get the White Sox into hitter's counts.
"It's the biggest part," he said. "For me, I've found the more offensive I am, the better outings I have."
But he couldn't execute. Nor could Pauley, who insisted he wasn't pitching defensively despite the fact he couldn't throw strikes.
"To fall behind a team like this, you're just asking for defeat," he said. "And that's pretty much what happened in that third inning. The first two innings, I was making my pitches and got ground balls fairly easily. Then, I fell behind guys and that's when they took advantage of it."
Pauley had gone at least five innings his first three starts since being called up from Class AAA, allowing three runs or fewer each time. But then he says his command came undone in the third inning and he could not get it back, with each pitch seeming to cause the situation to snowball into something worse.
"It could be that you have that kind of day in the minor leagues, but you might get away with a pitch there and have a guy roll over on a ball that up here, he gets a double on," Pauley said. "So it gets magnified."
The ability to magnify mistakes with power is a big reason the White Sox are a season-high 13 games over .500 and gearing for a playoff run. Meanwhile, the Mariners, for whom any sustained scoring is a special treat, are trying to avoid equaling their worst month in franchise history.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com
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