CHICAGO - The Seattle Mariners were like an arm-weary fighter who couldn't catch his breath between rounds Thursday.
They’d take their best shot – put up one run here, two there – take the field again only to have the Chicago White Sox pound away en route to a 9-5 victory that completed a four-game sweep.
Had the Mariners been able to hold the Sox once, maybe twice, who knows?
They couldn’t, and the home-run-happy White Sox handed Seattle its 20th loss in the past 26 games as the Mariners have fallen and cannot get up.
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Catcher Ramon Castro hit a pair of home runs, Carlos Quentin hit his 20th, and Paul Konerko continued his one-man pummeling of Mariners pitching. Not only did he homer for the fourth time in as many games, but Konerko also has homered in seven of the 10 games these two teams have played.
“He’s had a pretty good season against us,” manager Don Wakamatsu said.
And so have the White Sox, going 9-1 against Seattle in building a 57-44 record that leads the American League Central.
“That’s a high-salaried, veteran club and they’re crushing everybody right now, not just us,” rookie Michael Saunders said. “It was like they were sitting on pitches, and hitting some good pitches – low change-ups.”
The Mainers led 1-0, then 2-0 before falling behind, 5-2.
They crept back to 5-3, then gave up two more. Came back in the seventh inning and made it 7-5 – then gave up two to Chicago in the bottom half of the same inning.
“We couldn’t stop them and they were probably a little too comfortable up there,” Garrett Olson said.
Starting pitcher David Pauley got through the first two innings and had a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third. The lead wouldn’t last, and neither would Pauley.
“The first two innings were almost easy, then in the third I couldn’t throw a strike,” he said. “Every hitter was ahead in the count 2-0, sometimes 3-0. That happens and you try to do everything differently than you’re doing it and you just get lost.
“I couldn’t make an adjustment. I couldn’t get the job done.”
The White Sox’s four-run rally began with an infield single, but before it ended they had piled up five hits and a walk against Pauley, who was lifted in favor of left-hander Chris Seddon.
It was Pauley’s fourth start for the Mariners in 2010 and the shortest. In each of the first three, he had pitched five innings or more, allowed three runs or less.
Once he’d departed, down 4-2, Seddon worked three innings and was hurt mainly by each of Castro’s two home runs.
“The first one was on a change-up I left up, the second on a fastball in a fastball count,” Seddon said. “The second one, any location probably would have worked out better than the one I threw it in.”
Olson relieved Seddon and, like his teammates, was hurt by his command.
“They’re really locked in as a team, You get a couple of hitters feeling really good and make a mistake, you don’t get that ball back,” Olson said.
He gave up home runs to Konerko and Quentin.
The Mariners don’t have that particular weapon at their disposal, so trying to keep up with home runs, they tried what they do have – speed
Ichiro Suzuki tied a club record with three doubles and stole his 24th base and scored three times. Saunders had two hits to push his season average to .243, drove in a run and stole his third base.
And Josh Wilson stole his fourth base of the season.
It wasn’t enough. Nor were the 10 hits, including two doubles and a pair of RBI from Casey Kotchman.
“It doesn’t matter what ballpark you’re playing in, you’ve got to get ahead and stay ahead of the hitters,” Wakamatsu said. “Tonight, we threw 15 of 39 first-pitch strikes.
“When you’re behind in the count, a hitter gets more selective and you wind up grooving something – that happened this entire series with us. We scored 10 runs in the last two games, and with our pitching staff, that’s usually enough.”
Not against the White Sox.
Just how hot are they as a team? Well, aside from the four home runs, they got three hits and two RBI from the venerable Omar Vizquel, two hits and two runs from their No. 9 hitter, Gordon Beckham.
“I pride myself on throwing strikes, but tonight it was a case of trying harder, harder, harder, and then you get more and more tense,” Pauley said. “In the minor leagues, you might get away with a mistake, get a hitter to roll over on a pitch. Up here? Up here that pitch is a double.”
Seattle (Fister 3-6, 3.56 ERA) at Minnesota (Baker 8-9, 5.00), 5:10 p.m., FSN, 1030-AM, 1240-AM