Mariners fall in extras to White Sox
Late rally goes for naught in series opener in Chicago
CHICAGO -- In a hushed clubhouse Wednesday, Eddie Guardado stood in front of his locker at U.S. Cellular Field and accepted his role in Seattle's 6-5 loss in 11 innings to the Chicago White Sox.
"If you're going to blame anyone," Guardado said, his left arm wrapped heavily in ice, "... then blame me."
No, Guardado wasn't on the mound when Chicago's Juan Uribe looped an RBI single to shallow left field off Jake Woods (1-1) to score Pablo Ozuna with the winning run, but in his eyes, he might as well have been.
Two innings earlier, with Seattle (12-17) nursing a 5-4 lead, Guardado allowed a two-out, pinch-hit home run to Ozuna -- the first home run of Ozuna's career -- to tie the game and send it into extra innings.
That marked the third time this season that Guardado has blown a save opportunity on a home run. For the life of him, he can't explain why it keeps happening to him.
"I'm not going to strike out the world, but I'll get ground balls and fly balls," Guardado said. "It's just those fly balls are going over the fence.
"One pitch. I got beat all three times on one pitch. I'm puzzled."
Manager Mike Hargrove was asked after the game if Guardado would still be his closer.
"I don't want to answer any questions about Eddie tonight," Hargrove said.
Guardado, for his part, understands the predicament he's placed his team in.
"It's got to be hard for Grover," Guardado said of his manager. "I'm not doing my job. He has every right to do it [replace him]."
The White Sox (19-8) did most of their offensive damage Wednesday with balls hit over the fence, as two home runs accounted for five of their runs.
Chicago's Joe Crede hit a grand slam in the seventh inning off Rafael Soriano to give the White Sox a 4-1 lead. It was a deflating hit, considering how well Gil Meche had pitched up to that point.
Meche carried a two-hit shutout and a one-run lead into the seventh inning, even though he gave up four long fly balls. He wouldn't finish the seventh inning, though.
Meche walked Jim Thome to start the inning and then allowed a double off the wall in left field to Paul Konerko.
Meche then walked A.J. Pierzynski intentionally to load the bases. Hargrove went to his bullpen for Soriano, who hadn't allowed an inherited runner to score all season in 12 appearances.
That changed quickly.
Crede jumped all over Soriano's first pitch, a fastball up in the strike zone, sending it over the wall in left-center field for a 4-1 advantage.
Still, Meche -- who had good life on his four-seam fastball -- felt as strong about his outing than any of his previous five starts.
"As far as feeling total control ... it was happening," Meche said. "I feel good with the way I felt on the mound. I threw six great innings."
But Mariners definitely made things interesting in the eighth inning.
They scored four runs off three Chicago pitchers for a 5-4 lead, a notable rally that Willie Bloomquist, among others, counted as a positive on this lost evening.
"We could have folded after the grand slam," Bloomquist said. "We battled back and showed some character. That's good to see."
Jeremy Reed -- who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning -- doubled to right-center to start the inning against White Sox starter Freddy Garcia, who allowed one run over the first seven innings.
Reed's hit snapped a personal 0-for-21 funk at the plate.
Kenji Johjima followed with an RBI single to right field that cut the Chicago lead to 4-2.
Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen went to his bullpen for former Mariner Matt Thornton, who allowed a pinch-hit single to Bloomquist. Thornton got Ichiro Suzuki to bounce a ball to second base for the first out.
Guillen went to hit bullpen again, this time for Cliff Politte, who promptly allowed a two-run single to right field off the bat of Jose Lopez that tied the game.
After Raul Ibanez was walked intentionally, Richie Sexson bounced a ball to Crede at third base that had inning-ending double play written all over it.
But Ibanez went into second base with a hard slide, forcing a high return throw from Chicago second baseman Tadahito Iguchi to Paul Konerko. The ball sailed high and allowed Lopez to score the go-ahead run.
On that play, Sexson twisted his right ankle, leading Hargrove to believe that his first baseman might not play Thursday.
The White Sox won the game in the 11th inning, not with a home run but with two soft hits, the first being a dribbler that went up the middle that Ozuna turned into a double because the outfielders were playing deep.
"As soon as I hit the ball, I realized the center fielder and second baseman were kind of lackadaisical so I decided to take a chance," Ozuna said.
Uribe then looped a single into shallow left field that landed between Ibanez, Reed and Bloomquist.
"We fought all night long out there and played a good game," Hargrove said. "We have nothing to be ashamed about. We stayed in there and fought with them."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.