SEATTLE – Chicago general manager Kenny Williams doesn’t foresee any deals to augment his White Sox before the trading-without-waivers deadline in two weeks.
That’s OK. The big bat he got last summer is working out just fine.
Alex Rios hit a go-ahead, two-run home run and had three RBIs as the first-place Chicago White Sox rebounded from perhaps their toughest defeat of the season to beat the Seattle Mariners 6-1 on Monday night, ending a three-game losing streak.
“I’ve never seen a guy hit so hard for so long,” Williams said, adding the .307 hitting Rios would be hitting .400 “if he had any kind of luck.”
And that was before Rios, claimed on waivers from Toronto August 10 with a cost to Chicago of at least $61.6 million, broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth with his 16th home run. He and the White Sox triumphantly answered manager Ozzie Guillen’s curiosity of how they’d respond to Sunday, when they blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning of a 7-6 loss at Minnesota.
“We had a tough series in Minnesota, but we came back strong,” Rios said.
He then acknowledged this was one of the biggest games of a turnaround season for Chicago, which won for the 27th time in 35 games.
Daniel Hudson (1-0) struck out a career-high six while allowing five hits and one run in 6 2/3 innings. It was the longest outing and second win of the 23-year-old’s four-start career. Andruw Jones, subbing in right field while Carlos Quentin rested his bruised thumb, homered ahead of Gordon Beckham’s RBI double in the eighth inning, and Chicago increased its lead in the A.L. Central to a season-high 2 1/2 games over the Tigers and Twins.
Detroit lost in extra innings at home to A.L. West-leading Texas while Minnesota lost big at home to Cleveland.
“One day at a time. That’s our philosophy,” Guillen said. “No matter what happens yesterday, today is a new one.”
It’s been Groundhog Day in Seattle. The Mariners lost for the 13th time in 16 games. They are 21 games under .500, equaling their season low.
With the game tied at 1 and Omar Vizquel on base thanks to a walk with one out in the fifth, Rios leaned back on his heels and then powered David Pauley’s 2-1 pitch into the bleachers beyond left field. It was the 100th homer of the seven-year veteran’s career.
And as his body language in the box suggested, he sensed it was coming.
“Slider in. I was looking for something like that, in that location. I guess I put a good swing on it,” he deadpanned.
Pauley (0-2) allowed eight hits and three runs in six innings. It was his seventh career start and second this season as the fill-in for Cliff Lee, the ace that Seattle traded last week to the Rangers in a white-flag statement on this lost season.
The 27-year-old lamented how high he hung the decisive pitch to Rios.
“Left it up in the middle of the zone to a guy like that, who’s got the abilities he has? You can’t make that mistake in that situation,” Pauley said.
That’s not to say Chicago cruised from there. Hudson, the fifth-round pick of the White Sox in 2008 who mostly fixed the jitters of his previous outing, left his second start of the season following an infield single by Seattle’s Jack Wilson with two outs in the seventh.
Ichiro Suzuki singled off All-Star reliever Matt Thornton, who then walked Chone Figgins to load the bases in a 4-1 game. But Thornton struck out Casey Kotchman on three pitches, the third a 97 mph one up in the substitute’s eyes.
Kotchman was playing only because Mariners designated hitter Russell Branyan had to leave following his second at-bat. Branyan felt stiffness in his back jogging down the line on his double-play grounder that ended the third.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said Branyan – plus catcher Rob Johnson, who left the game with stiffness in his surgically repaired hip – will be reevaluated today.
For a complete box score, see Scoreboard/B5
Guillen said Quentin could have played but that he wanted him to rest his bruised right hand. Guillen hopes Quentin, who has 19 home runs and 64 RBIs, can return today. He got hurt in the sixth inning Sunday.