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Garland shuts down M’s, earns 16th victory

Andrew Seligman Associated Press

CHICAGO – Aaron Rowand knew he was closing in on the wall, but wasn’t about to slow down.

Jon Garland earned his 16th win, Paul Konerko and Joe Crede homered, and Rowand preserved the lead with a spectacular catch in center field as the Chicago White Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 3-1 Sunday.

Garland (16-5) – the A.L. leader in victories – left with runners on first and second in the eighth inning. Damaso Marte got Raul Ibanez to fly out before Richie Sexson sent a drive to deep center off Cliff Politte.

“They’re not moving,” Rowand said of the outfield walls. “I ran into them enough times, and they’re still not moving. Thanks for (chairman) Jerry Reinsdorf for putting more padding on the wall.”

Rowand was aware he was approaching the wall, but didn’t slow down. He crashed as he was preparing to jump and stayed down momentarily, but was fine.

“He’s picked me up a couple times this year,” Politte said. “I’ve got one or two wins because of him. Everything he does is 120 percent. He’ll run into walls. He’ll run through walls. He comes in on balls better than a lot of guys I know. When you have that kind of defense behind you, it makes throwing strikes easier.”

Garland allowed five hits, struck out three and walked two in 7 1/3 innings. After allowing an RBI single to Ichiro Suzuki in the third, he retired the next 12 batters.

The White Sox’s major league-high 72nd victory came on the day they unveiled a life-sized statue of No. 72, Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk. After dropping two of three to Toronto, the White Sox won two of three against the Mariners to finish their six-game homestand.

Konerko’s two-run shot in the fourth was his second in two games, his 27th of the season and fourth on the homestand. Crede homered leading off the fifth and Rowand had two singles to extend his hitting streak to seven games.

Dustin Hermanson pitched the ninth for his 28th save in 29 opportunities.

After breaking an 0-for-22 slump with two hits on Saturday, Suzuki had two singles.

Jeff Harris (0-1), making his first major league start and his second appearance, allowed three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings, walking three and striking out three.

“We played the best team in baseball almost dead even for three games,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said. “I know kissing your sister is in the same category. But if we can take something out of this, we’ll continue to compete well.”

After walking Chris Snelling with one out in the third, Garland deflected Wiki Gonzalez’s one-hopper – turning a potential inning-ending double play into a single that put runners at first and third. Suzuki singled to make it 1-0.

Rowand led off the fourth with a single and Konerko homered into the left-field bullpen for a 2-1 lead.

“I left it out over the plate and he recognized it,” Harris said. “He’s a good hitter, and good hitters take advantage of bad pitches.”

Crede, who had one hit in his previous 16 at-bats, made it 3-1 when he connected on a 1-2 pitch in the fifth.

The Mariners had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh after Adrian Beltre walked and Jeremy Reed laid down a bunt single, but Garland stranded them.

“He was ahead in the count a lot and he had great stuff today,” Gonzalez said. “Every time we got men on base, he would go ahead and shut us down.”

It was a drastic turnaround from Garland’s previous start, as he allowed a career-high 13 hits and tied a season high with seven runs against Detroit.

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