SEATTLE – Just when Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale seemed to be cracking Friday, the Mariners’ bullpen got into the act. Lately, that’s not a good thing.
The White Sox scored four runs in the eighth inning and three more in the ninth as they pulled away for an 11-4 romp over the Mariners at Safeco Field before 35,770.
Sale (12-7) was magnificent for most of the game in out-pitching Felix Hernandez, who gave up four runs in six innings.
But Mark Trumbo followed singles in the seventh by Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano with a line-drive homer and, suddenly, the Mariners had life. They were within 4-3.
The budding comeback died when Chicago roughed up Fernando Rodney and Rob Rasmussen. Manager Lloyd McClendon, when he went to the mound to remove Rasmussen, got ejected by home-plate umpire Quinn Wolcott.
The White Sox removed all doubt with a three-run ninth against David Rollins before Cruz closed the scoring by hitting his 37th homer in the bottom of the inning.
Sale gave up just one tainted hit before the Mariners struck in the seventh. He was overpowering at times in striking out 14 and walking just one.
Hernandez (14-8) matched zeroes with Sale through three innings but gave up single runs in the fourth and fifth before exiting after a two-run sixth inning. His line showed nine hits, one walk and four strikeouts.
The Mariners, trailing 4-0, finally stirred in the seventh after Cruz led off with a grounder through the right side for a clean single that saved official scorer Darin Padur from some extra scrutiny.
Cruz’s single also extended his streak to 31 games of reaching base safely – a career best and the longest this season by an American League player.
Cano followed with a single to center. After Sale got a borderline call from Wolcott for a strikeout against Franklin Gutierrez, Trumbo sent a liner over the right-field wall.
That quickly, the Mariners cut a four-run deficit to 4-3.
Rodney and Rasmussen gave it back and more.
Melky Cabrera led off with a single against Rodney and went to third – stopped at third, actually – when Adam LaRoche’s one-out drive to right eluded a diving Cruz for a double.
A walk to Alexei Ramirez loaded the bases and prompted a pitching change to Rasmussen, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Tacoma, for a lefty-lefty matchup against Carlos Sanchez.
The move didn’t work.
Rasmussen walked Sanchez and then walked the next hitter, Tyler Flowers. Rasmussen struck out Adam Eaton, but Tyler Saladino served a two-run single into right.
The Mariners’ only hit against Sale prior to the seventh came when Ketel Marte opened the first with a double that clanged off the pocket of right fielder Avisail Garcia’s glove.
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