Work in Sports
Mariners topple White Sox to take 2-0 series lead
CHICAGO (AP) -- Seattle's bullpen bullied the Chicago White Sox again, pushed aside the majors' most potent offense and landed the road-tough Mariners a 2-0 lead in their division series.
Now the White Sox will try to be sweepless in Seattle when the best-of-five series shifts to Safeco Field on Friday.
"We don't want to get in a slugging match with the White Sox. I don't know if it's them struggling or we're making our pitches," Alex Rodriguez said Wednesday after Seattle's 5-2 victory.
It all puts the White Sox, owners of the AL's best record, on the verge of an early exit.
"Right now, obviously, we're in some trouble," Chicago manager Jerry Manuel said. "I think if any team can do it, we can. We won 95 games and feel we can find a way to win three more."
But to have any chance of winning just one game, the White Sox must start hitting the ball, especially with runners in scoring position -- they are just 3-for-23 in the first two games.
Seattle's bullpen has allowed just three hits in 10 scoreless innings over the first two games, starting with 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball in Tuesday's 7-4 victory.
Paul Abbott gave up five hits and two runs over 5 2/3 innings Wednesday to win in his first postseason appearance in a pro career that began in 1985.
"The bullpen has been lights out," Abbott said. "You go out there and know you have three or four guys who are going to come in and shut them down."
The White Sox stranded eight runners, giving them 18 in the first two games. Frank Thomas was 0-for-4 Wednesday and is hitless in seven series at-bats.
"To tell you the truth, we're not surprised. But we also know they could turn it on at any minute," Rhodes said.
"I sense they are pressing somewhat. Obviously, what they need is a bloop hit and not a home run," Manuel said of his floundering middle hitters.
"It seems with all the fly balls and popups, we are probably going about it the wrong way. We should be hitting a few more ground balls and line drives."
The Mariners won eight of their final nine road games in the regular season, including a wild card-clinching win at Anaheim last Sunday. And now they've carried it over into the postseason.
"We made it interesting and tough on ourselves down the stretch. Those games seemed like playoff games. Definitely that helped," Buhner said.
The White Sox have lost nine straight postseason home games since beating Los Angeles in Game 1 of the 1959 World Series.
Thomas, an MVP candidate who hit 43 homers and drove in 143 runs during the season, came up with runners at first and second in the seventh, but flied out against Mesa for the second out.
Mesa deflected Ordonez's shot through the box, and McLemore made a spectacular diving stop. He somehow flipped the ball to Rodriguez, just beating Jose Valentin in a close play for a force to end another Chicago threat.
"That was the ballgame right there," Rodriguez said.
Buhner's 400-foot homer to left in the fourth off losing pitcher Mike Sirotka gave Seattle a 3-2 lead.
Appearing in his 56th postseason game, Rickey Henderson manufactured a run for the Mariners in the fifth. He walked, moved up on a sacrifice and stole third. He then scored on Rodriguez's slow roller to third as Herbert Perry elected to go to first instead of home.
In the next inning, Henderson left the game with a jammed left index finger after being shaken up sliding head-first into third.
The Mariners added an insurance run in the ninth when McLemore drew a two-out walk, Raul Ibanez singled and Mike Cameron singled. Cameron, formerly of the White Sox, had two key hits and a stolen base in Game 1.
The White Sox tied it at 2 in the third as Valentin bunted for a single, stole second and went to third on catcher Dan Wilson's overthrow. Valentin scored on Lee's sacrifice fly with Buhner making a nice catch in deep right.
Game 1 hero Edgar Martinez, who hit a two-run, go-ahead homer in the doubled to start the second. Sirotka, who'd been initially scheduled to start the opener before hyperextending his elbow last week, hit John Olerud with a pitch.
Buhner hit a grounder in the hole to short and Valentin, who had 36 regular-season errors, fielded it but threw off-target and high to second for an error, loading the bases.
David Bell hit an RBI single and Wilson a sacrifice fly to put the Mariners up 2-1.
The White Sox got consecutive doubles from their first two hitters Durham and Valentin but again couldn't get a big inning going. They were 2-for-14 with men in scoring position in Game 1.
With Valentin at second, Thomas popped out. After Ordonez walked, Abbott got Lee on a popup and Paul Konerko on a short comebacker, throwing him out even after he fell down fielding it.
Notes: The Mariners are 3-5 overall on the road in the postseason. Their win Tuesday was their first ever in a Game 1 in four postseason series. ... The teams have a workout day Thursday and the series resumes Friday with James Baldwin facing Seattle's Aaron Sele. The White Sox have won four of six games at Safeco Field this year.