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updated: 7/2/2011 9:01 PM

Pierre delivers game winner for Sox ... again

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  • White Sox outfielders Juan Pierre, from left, Alex Rios and Brent Lillibridge celebrate after Saturday's victory at Wrigley Field.

      White Sox outfielders Juan Pierre, from left, Alex Rios and Brent Lillibridge celebrate after Saturday's victory at Wrigley Field.
    Associated Press

 

Cubs starter Matt Garza had no-hit stuff Saturday afternoon, but the Cubs' offense had no-run stuff.

That led to the same old stuff for the Cubs.

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Juan Pierre's bloop RBI single over short in the sixth not only broke up Garza's no-hitter, it held up as the difference in the White Sox's 1-0 interleague victory at Wrigley Field.

Pierre's third game-winning hit in as many days elevated the White Sox (42-42) to the .500 mark for the first time since April 16.

They shoot for their first five-game winning streak of the year -- and a 5-1 record against the Cubs this season -- in Sunday's series finale.

"I don't think Kenny (Williams) and Jerry (Reinsdorf) pay me to play .500," said Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "I don't think they spend $150 million, or whatever they spent, to be a .500 team. I expect better. This ballclub is not a .500 ballclub."

And they haven't been since plummeting 11 games below that mark on May 6.

The Sox are 31-20 over the last eight weeks, which outstrips everybody in the American League except Boston (33-16 entering Saturday night's game at Houston) and the Yankees (32-19).

"We've just been playing better baseball," Pierre said. "We haven't really gotten hot yet, we're just consistently winning series here lately, and that's what you want to do until you hopefully get a hot streak."

Sox starter Phil Humber, the epitome of consistency with 11 quality starts in his last 12 outings, battled through 7 innings to share the shutout with Matt Thornton.

Humber (8-4) didn't have his best stuff and his finest control, but the Cubs couldn't wait to bail him out as soon as they worked him into trouble.

"I'm sure if you ask the guys in their clubhouse, they would be like, 'I don't know how we didn't hang 5 or 6 on him,'" Humber said.

Here's how: With an awe-inspiring lack of patience at the plate.

Kosuke Fukudome opened the first with a single and moved to second when Darwin Barney walked on 5 pitches. Starlin Castro promptly swung at Humber's first pitch and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

See if you don't notice a pattern here.

Carlos Pena opened the second with a bunt single and moved to second when Marlon Byrd walked on 4 pitches.

So what did Alfonso Soriano do? Swing at Humber's first pitch and bounce into a 5-4-3 double play.

Yes, White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham failed to keep his foot on the bag as he turned the pivot -- inspiring Cubs manager Mike Quade to storm second-base umpire Paul Emmel and earn his third ejection of the year -- but the umpires didn't cause the Cubs to go 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

"I thought that was taking the old-school neighborhood play a little too far," Quade said of the call that got him ejected. "It was important. To me, that was the big play. We had three of the same opportunities in the first, second and sixth and we want to be productive in those situations. We weren't."

Meanwhile, Garza (4-7) overwhelmed the White Sox as he scattered 4 singles. Garza claimed he had better stuff than during his no-hitter for Tampa Bay last July, and nobody disputed it.

"He was the best I've seen," Pierre said.

Not only was Garza still throwing pinpoint 96 mph fastballs in the ninth, the right-hander earned several of his 7 strikeouts on wicked sliders.

If he could relive his first complete game as a Cub, Garza would change the result of just 2 of his 114 pitches.

With one out in the sixth and Beckham on third, Garza gunned a 97 m.p.h. fastball to Pierre that he thought painted the inside corner for strike three.

"Yeah, I was mad," Garza said. "It's a big situation, big moment. I wanted that pitch."

Before the crowd finished booing that call, Pierre looped Garza's subsequent slider over the drawn-in infield for the game's run.

"I hung a slider," Garza said. "I should have put him away."

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